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Seven photographers answer the question: what’s your future legacy?

The image makers behind Calvin Klein’s one future #ckone campaign come together to tell stories in a single image

Taken from the autumn/winter 2020 issue of Dazed. You can pre-order a copy of our latest issue here

From Florida to Texas and Wyoming, young image-makers across America are living through some of the most turbulent times ever seen in the United States they call home. Geographically distant, but bound by a shared mission to document the changing world around them, the next generation of photographers in this feature are the eyes through which the world might just see those changes happen. At this unique turning point in culture and politics, with this project undertaken just before the 2020 US election, the young photographers behind Calvin Klein’s one future #ckone campaign come together to tell a story in a single image, one that answers a single question: What’s your future legacy?


“This photograph was taken a couple weeks ago at my studio, which stands on one of the busiest intersections in Baltimore, North Avenue and Howard. My studio is my sanctuary. It’s where I work, study, and teach others. It’s also where I house my archive. In this image, behind me you see many beautiful Black faces, sitters in my photographs who (have) become my chosen family. Legacy to me is grandmothers having my photographs hanging on their walls. Legacy is archiving Baltimore’s ongoing history with care and attentiveness, because I’m always thinking of showing up for Baltimore. I always want my integrity and love for Black people in Baltimore to be seen, felt and transparent. Pre-election, post-election – I just want to remind myself and everyone, the power is in the people.”


“My younger brother and I don’t have many pictures together, and I really wanted to invite him into my creative space. We’re both first-generation college students and it’s very surreal to be acting on our dreams while the world is in the state that it’s in. My family were one of the first Black families to live in Waco, and they remain there in the heart of east Waco to this day. The fact that I can trace my ancestry back to 1839 is amazing given that I’m Black, and no records person cared to document Black people’s identities before emancipation. This is my family’s legacy and I hold on to it very closely. Legacy to me is about preservation and reflection.


“This image was made in Kaktovik, Alaska during a singspiration for an elder in the community who was going to be passing away soon. Loved ones and friends gather in the home, sing and celebrate the life of the one passing. I was invited to join in and make some photos. I love the photo for what it means to my culture, but I only took a few photos that evening (as I) really just wanted to be present in the moment. When I think of the word legacy, I think of the work I want to leave behind, (that will) hopefully have a positive impact on my people and for my people. I want my work to look at and show the positives and hardships of life in the north – to break stereotypes about Alaska while also celebrating the diversity of this state.”


“This image was taken for a project, originally titled Our Moonlight but later renamed Intimacy in Isolation, in collaboration with Akwaeke Emezi, a phenomenal author and human being. This was (one of) the first photographic stories I created during the early stages of the pandemic. It was necessary for me to check in and explore how people were sustaining their partnerships and love for one another during that time. My partner mostly inspired this project. In this current moment, legacy doesn’t equate to accomplishments but how I loved and cared for the people around me. Am I a good friend, lover, partner, peer, son? Am I learning, growing, and holding myself accountable? Those are a few important questions I ask myself.”


“This photograph was taken in Butte, Montana and is from my 2019 series Mirror Pond. The work as a whole is about self-examination and reflection on one’s own views and position in society: the forces of history, religion and societal expectations that have put each of us where we stand today.”


“These days legacy has a whole new meaning to me, as I gave birth to my daughter late last year. I wanted to create an image of my daughter that spoke of her as my legacy, and of my own aspirations for a photographic and artistic (legacy). I set up the tarp to look like a traditional photography background, but made sure to let the lush greenery come through. This alludes to Florida, my home. I hope my work disrupts how photography has functioned in the past, subverting the male, colonial, neoliberal gaze. I believe that photography can thrive outside of confining genres and antiquated rules. I hope that I can also help open doors and opportunities for more diverse storytellers to come.”


“I took this photo in the back yard of my new home in Austin, Texas. When I think of how to answer the question of future legacy, I think of the transitional periods so many of us are in. Signs of optimism make me feel good, and I wanted to savour that moment for a little bit. I didn’t grow up around wildflowers, and it was one of the first things I noticed when we moved in. It goes without saying what a hard year it’s been, but I hold on to those moments that make me feel hopeful.”