THIS PROJECT WILL BE FUNDED BY THE DAZED 100 IDEAS FUND, IN PARTNERSHIP WITH CONVERSE
New York-based model, photographer, and YouTuber Ella Snyder will create a photography book focusing on the transgender community and her place within it. “It’s a really big step for me, connecting with my community after having been a ‘stealth’ trans woman for so long. Hiding that part of my identity really created a disconnect,” Ella says. Proceeds from sales of the photo book will be donated to Camp Aranu'tiq, a summer camp for transgender and non-binary young people that Ella attended aged 11. “It was the first space I ever felt free to be myself,” she explains, “I hope that this book can do something similar for everyone included.”
Ella Snyder is a gen-Z polymath. In 2017 she featured on the BBC2 documentary Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best? about her experience transitioning at age 11, and the same year published TUCK*d magazine which, Ella explained, “was created in the hopes of eliminating the stigma around transgender youth”. She’s currently at Parson’s studying photography, while also creating work for her highly-followed YouTube channel, as well as modelling and writing.
Now she’s working on her first photo-book, documenting the trans and non-binary friends she’s made at college, the people she meets now, and the people who influenced her journey. “I think the most exciting aspect about it is that this is the first time I’m approaching my artistic practice from the place of being an out trans woman,” Ella says. “The book is going to primarily act as a photo book, but it will also include a collection of essays that I am writing as I meet with the people I photograph.”
Since she came out as trans on her channel last year, Ella’s work has become more focussed on profiling and prioritising trans people: her photography is about creating a universe she wants to exist in, one in which non-binary and trans people can express themselves freely, or as she puts it: “I aim to create a dialogue that normalises difference.”
When it comes to your work, what are you most proud of?
Ella Snyder: One of my biggest accomplishments has to have been coming out as trans on my YouTube channel. I don’t know what took me so long to do it other than the fact that I was scared that my viewers wouldn’t be accepting. The internet is an extremely scary place, but I’ve come to realise there is so much more love out there than there is hate. And I know that I am extremely privileged to have experienced coming out in this way, to have been able to live as a cis woman and not have the immediate need to explain my gender identity to others, but it felt extremely important to me to share that part of myself with the world. I couldn’t live this secret anymore and my life has only improved since coming out.
How do you want to influence the future?
Ella Snyder: For me, it’s all about positive representation. I hope that by being vocal online and by being my authentic self, I can inspire younger generations to do the same. By being this visible figure, who is proud and confident in who they are, I hope that I’m setting the example for others to find the courage within themselves to do it too. This visibility is so important because it’s the starting point in first accepting, and then appreciating diversity.
“The internet is an extremely scary place, but I’ve come to realise there is so much more love out there than there is hate” – Ella Snyder
What creative or philanthropic project would you work on with a grant from the Dazed 100 Ideas Fund?
Ella Snyder: I would use the grant to elevate the production of my photo book. The funds would allow me to travel and meet with many more individuals, create more interesting images, and publish a better book on a technical level. The money would also be put towards actually getting the book out there and into people’s hands. Anything left, I feel like it would only be right to give back to the community. I would donate any leftover funding to Camp Aranu’tiq in the form of scholarships for campers. Camp Aranu’tiq was the summer camp I went to each year from the ages of eleven to fifteen and it’s a camp for transgender and non-binary kids. It was the first place I ever truly felt safe to be me, and the first place I met other kids like myself. Had I not gone there, I don’t think I would be able to love myself as wholly as I do today, and I hope to provide that opportunity for others whom it may not be accessible to otherwise.
Since becoming one of the recipients of the 2020 Dazed 100 Ideas Fund, the New York-based model, photographer, and YouTube star is turning the photography project of her dreams into a reality with a grant from the Dazed 100 in partnership with Converse, shooting a series of portraits with “trans and non-binary individuals who are making waves within the community”. Read more here.