Based in the bustling city of New York, Rochelle Brock is an inspiring body-positive photographer who has been voted as ‘Most Likely to Photograph a Movement in 2018’ by PAPER magazine. Like any other photographer, Rochelle had initially started off by taking photographs of things that she liked at the mere age of sixteen. With time, she found that she preferred taking photographs of people; especially black and bigger people like her. Being a woman who wanted to be a voice for under-represented people around her, she decided to dedicate her photography to body-positivity. As people had motivated her towards self-acceptance on the internet, she wanted to do the same for other people too! Here’s what she had to say in an interview with The Tempest:
The Tempest: Personally, what does body-positivity mean to you?
Rochelle Brock: I would say that body positivity just means being comfortable in the skin that you’re born with and embracing that as well. Taking your time, learning from experiences and gradually being confident in your body and making sure other people know that you’re comfortable in your skin as well.
What was the process of finding body acceptance and body confidence like for you?
I feel like it wasn’t something that happened overnight, rather, it’s been a journey. I’ve always been a bigger person since I was a child so there were definitely a lot of ups and downs. Initially, I wasn’t confident in my body, however, I didn’t always feel unconfident in my body either. It’s actually difficult to explain, there were always phases where I sometimes was truly happy in my body and times when I was not. I’d say people on the internet have also been an inspiration, following people on social media platforms that have been through the same process of self-acceptance have indirectly helped me a lot as well.
So you’ve been taking photographs for about six years now and you’re absolutely great at it! From your experience, what does it take for a photograph to be expressive and to reach out to the hearts of the viewers?
Oh I think that all depends on what vibe or message I’m going for. Fortunately, the people I usually work with are very expressive in general and wear themselves well so I think I’m just capturing that. I try my best to capture people without giving them robotic instructions, simply capturing the real moment as it is. That way the model’s own unique personality and style shines through the photograph giving a personal touch, Also, I love color so that’s one way to expect good photographs as well.
You mentioned that initially you didn’t start out as a body positive photographer but gradually found your direction. For other photographers out there, how does one find their sense of style or direction when it comes to photography?
I think the best way to do that is to just keep shooting. I always knew that I wanted to do some sort of fashion or portraiture because I love photographing people and I think that it expanded into wanting to photograph all different types of people especially more plus sized people. Since then, that’s just been something that I love to do because it’s also a need for photographers to know how to shoot bigger bodies.
So I definitely think to find something that is significant to you and just keeps working at it. If fashion is something you love, try and take more fashion related photos in a creative or different manner than usual. Similarly, if you’re into food photography, take photos of delicious foods and don’t hesitate to experiment and have fun with it. It’s also important to find something that is not really being represented in the communities around you and give a voice to those people using your art.
Considering your entire career so far, has there been a specific photograph that is memorable or deeply connected to you? It doesn’t have to be limited to your work only, could be another artist as well.
I think it’s easy for me to answer that about the recent shoots that I’ve done. There is one that I took for Refinery 29’s stock photography series called ‘Black Girl Beauty’, it was from ‘Black Girl Dreaming’. It’s a photo of a 13-year-old girl who was just so full of life on set. She was joyful and she kept dancing! I have one side portrait of her and she’s just glancing with her chin up and she was so incredibly happy and confident. It’s one of my favorite photos because we don’t really see a lot of photos of little black girls just being happy and being themselves.