In The Middle With: Cassandra Joseph
Featured on PhotoVogue Italia in May 2018, Leeds-based photographer, Cassandra Joseph, garnered recognition for her breathtaking visual styling. In this issue, we gain an insight into the creative mind behind the eye.
At which age did you begin to create the
content that you do now?
I was around 18 when I began to
experiment with photography and fashion. That process helped me to find the style that I possess now.
Who/where did you find the inspiration that kick-started the desire to create?
I was raised around a very creative family, so creativity was always encouraged. It is something that comes naturally to me. I grew up dancing, painting and designing. Looking back, I realise that I have repeatedly used my creativity as a way of communicating. Being dyslexic, I find it much easier to express myself through art rather than words.
What do you aim to communicate through your artistry?
I create work that I feel like my younger self-needed to see whilst growing up. I want to represent the underrepresented. It was rare to see any models of colour in fashion magazines when I was little. I had few role models that looked like me to choose from in the media, which left me feeling a little isolated. It suggested that fashion had no space for Black women, so the empowerment and celebration of women of colour became my primary reason to shoot.
What are the current projects that you are working on?
I have been doing a lot of freelancing at the moment which has been amazing. My most recent project has been with Leeds-based Jewellery brand, Omo Lola. Everyone should check out their site, the jewellery is beautiful and I am in love with the campaign that we created together. I also have a few more collaborations lined up that I am extremely excited about.
Which direction are you hoping for your work to lead you in the next five years?
Honestly, I just hope to be creating. Whether that’s through photography,
directing, editing, etc. As long as I am actively
doing something creative I will be happy. I hope to explore creative direction in the near future.
How closely would you say your own personal
style is translated into your work? Which elements of it?
I always put a little bit of myself into my work whether it’s my own fashion, makeup, hair styling etc. Let’s just say I am a one-man show and cover a lot of the elements involved in a photoshoot. I love it; I am a self-confessed control freak. By being so involved I can’t help but project my own personal style into my work. I
guess I don’t know exactly what the elements of my style are but I’ve been told that all of my photographs contain that certain ‘Cassandra’ touch.
What is the most important thing that you have learnt about your personal style over the years? How has it changed and how do you think it will evolve?
The type of work I do now has really developed
over the past four years, that’s when I started to photograph seriously rather than as a hobby. My bold and colourful style is something that I have always
displayed but now it is more exaggerated. I used to create work that would fit in alongside other photographers but now it’s quite the opposite. Now, I
deliberately try to create work that is difficult to categorise. I hope that my work is regarded as surreal; I have many extra-terrestrial
imaginings that I want to execute. I can only hope that my work grows bigger and bolder.
How do you use styling, imagery and fashion to influence cultural awareness?
Fashion and imagery are great tools that can influence cultural awareness. In a project I did last year called“Queentessentially British”, I explored the cultural aesthetics that belong to Black British women today and documented them in a zine. It acted as a visual catalogue of the many attributes that make up an African diasporic woman’s wardrobe. I work with my models closely and include elements of their personality and character in the photograph, and often that includes their culture.
Why do you think that communication of cultural awareness through fashion and
imagery is such an effective method?
Fashion and cultural awareness (executed in the right way) can help to inform people on culturally specific styles and origins. It can also celebrate and uplift cultures too. The collaboration of imagery and cultural awareness can provide the all-important representation of people from minority backgrounds.
Questions by Elicka Ghahramani