Toni Black, Unraveled | An Interview
Toni Black is a branding and intimate lifestyle portrait photographer based in Dallas, TX. She is also the founder of the blog Body Undefined, a Boudoir and Intimate Lifestyle Portraits blog that showcases the beautiful bodies of diasporic black women. She's passionate about elevating black women, because she feels their bodies are hypersexualized, fetishized and coveted, instead of being loved and respected. Her goal is to uplift black women by helping them reconnect to their divine selves. When she's not traveling with her work, she's home with her 2 kids and baby dog Xander, Aidyn and Jazz.
Toni is one of the teachers of Empowering Women of Color Through Photography alongside Chinelle Rojas, J’aime Davis and Traci Lester. This is a ground-breaking MasterCourse that aspires to break down the stereotypes and misconceptions behind women of color in life and business, educate the public, as well as inspire and empower all people to connect, support and validate one another on their creative journeys, despite their race or color. Students will not only learn history but they will learn how to be inclusive in their business model, expose for different skin tones, and shoot what matters most.
Click HERE to join our tribe and take this Master Course.
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Here is Toni, Unraveled…
What inspires your art?
My inspiration has changed over the years. But lately, my biggest inspiration has been black women. Women have to be so many things for so many people, and adversely, black women have to be those things plus more. Outside of how we are normally seen, we are so dynamic visually, emotionally and spiritually. I love seeing that and capturing it.
What do you shoot with? Camera body and favorite lens?
I shoot with a Nikon D700 and a Sony A7. On my Nikon, my favorite lens is the 85mm 1.4 and on my Sony, the 30mm 2.8. They’re both my go-to lenses. I also shoot with a Nikon D100 film camera and a Canon AE-1, and I keep a 50mm on both of them.
What other ways do you express your creativity?
I just started painting actually. As creative as I am with music and photography, I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler. But painting has been so therapeutic for me. It’s been pretty amazing actually.
How do you de-stress at the end of the day?
At the end of the day, I like to meditate and clear my mind. It absolutely keeps me grounded. If I can’t handle anything at any moment, I sit down, do a body scan and ground myself.
What kind of music do you listen to while editing?
My editing music depends on my mood. I’ve been getting a lot of followers on my Apple Music, and it made me look at my playlists to see what the deal was. Turns out I listen to a lot of chill music, LOL. If I am not listening to Neo-Soul, I am listening to Indie-R&B.
What is your favorite book?
Oh man, my current favorite non-fiction is actually a series. The Akata Witch series by Nnedi Okorafor. My favorite non-fiction right now has to be UnFuck Yourself by Gary John Bishop.
Name one movie that inspires you.
This is going to sound Cliche, but The Color Purple is always my go to movie and book. It feels like the reason I do what I do. It’s a coming of age story of a black woman in the south, who overcomes a lifetime of abuse at the hands of the people in her life, only to find her voice, peace and a sisterhood that was stronger than any other relationship. I hope that we can all find that peace earlier in our lives than she did.
How do you handle self-doubt or creative slumps?
When I am starting to doubt myself, the first thing I do is unplug. Being plugged in all the time has us comparing our b-roll to everyone else’s highlight reels. We are all on a different journey and we can’t stay on ours if we are constantly wanting to step into other people’s. I always remind myself to stay in my own lane. Then, I surround myself in real life by what inspires me.
What has been the most difficult part of your creative journey?
The most difficult part in my creative journey has been restarting my business in a different state. Trying to find the balance between what I want to do creatively and what I need to do to build a new clientele can muddy the waters, but I’m continuing to stay in my own lane and stay the course.
Who is one of your favorite photographers?
Why are you making me only choose ONE??? HAHAHA! I have a few. Kevin Lowery is one of my favorite photographers. The way he captures the soul of people just moves me. Shauna Moody is another favorite of mine. Her street photography and the colors she captures just catches my breath every single time.