With a modelling agency and magazine to his name, the British-Ghanaian photographer combines entrepreneurship with genuine empowerment
British-Ghanaian photographer Campbell Addy is an artist with a story to tell. His debut solo show, Matthew 7:7&8, bravely explored and celebrated sexuality and a culture at odds with his Jehovah’s Witness upbringing. “Everyone assumes if you’re gay, you’re not religious,” he said in an interview with Dazed. “I grew up in a very religious household and there are things you can’t just leave in the past, it stays with you – like my morals are deeply rooted in religion whether I like it or not.”
A recent Central Saint Martins graduate, Addy’s highly stylised pictures have been featured in some of the fashion world’s boldest publications. His ambition and socially conscious sensibility extend to the two platforms he launched in 2016 – Nii Journal and Nii Agency, a culture magazine and a modelling agency, respectively. The journal was borne out of Addy’s experiences in New York during the summer of 2015, at a crucial period of the Black Lives Matter movement. He explained that there was no way he could have gone back to CSM without producing something in response, so set about creating a magazine that would explore issues of empowerment and representation within race.
“I owe it to my brothers, I owe it to the conversation that’s happening,” he said. The agency sprung from a slightly different concern – Addy’s anger after one of the models he shot, who was albino, was told by an agent, “We have one of you already”. He decided that he would create something to change the status quo: an ultra-diverse agency which smashes the façade of conventional beauty standards with a particular focus on black men.