For Judith Rita, photography is a powerful art form that can elicit and bring out several different emotions and relatability through a single frame. The London creative recalls getting inspired by parodies of music videos and films, which led to her studying media in university. Most of Judith’s visuals arrive in the form of photographic and figurative portraiture, photo documentation, as well as editorial conception.
From commercial works to editorial photography, Judith Rita’s images explore cultural subjects within Black culture surrounding London, while highlighting a sense of community, raw emotion, and beauty. Through projects like Filter Faces—an artistic perspective of the rise of non-surgical procedures—Feathered and Feet, Judith is highlighting the cultural, social, and personal experiences through themes that connect. Without a doubt, she’s an extremely talented photographer who we’ll enjoy watching grow over the coming years.
For Behind The Lens, we had the pleasure of chopping it up with Judith Rita in regards to capturing Black skin, challenges in her career, and stepping out of the box. Check it out below!
How did you get into photography and when did it become clear that this was a career for you?
I think it stemmed from YouTube actually, people would make their own version of music videos to other videos. My mom bought us this point-and-shoot camera and when my sister went to secondary school, she ended getting a DSLR because she was taking media. My sister inspired me to take the same media course so I ended up taking the camera as well and taking pictures all of the time. Eventually, I decided to take the same course as her once I got into secondary school and from there, I discovered that I enjoy photography a lot.
I started my photography course in my senior year of college and my professor wasn’t the nicest when it came to criticizing our work. So I did a couple of shoots for my final project and she gathered the class to praise my work, something along the lines of “guys this is some amazing work from Judith.” Now we were all shocked because getting praise from here was a whole battle but here she is praising me. I already knew I wanted to pursue photography but that moment made me think it is something I could pursue if I took it more seriously.
What is your creative process when working on a new project?
It’s changed from how it used to be but for me, it depends on the mood that I’m in. I have a lot of creative friends around me and artists so it might be a thing of me hearing something they’re writing. Even if I’m just out and I see someone with a cool outfit, I just get random inspiration from seeing things while I’m running around. Sometimes it can also come from my community because there’s a lot of mixed cultures.
You have a very specific way of capturing Black skin through your lens, your images envoke this refreshing sense of Black joy and beauty. What story do you want your work to tell?
I wanted to show people that there are all different types of us, from our complexion to our personalities and styles, you can’t fit us into one category. One thing I really dislike about the fashion and media industry is when it comes to black people or minority groups in general, they only get castes into things that are considered Black, Asian, or whatever it be. Who decides these quotas? That’s why I try to show us and my area in different lights, it’s extremely important for me to reflect the community around me.
Where do you typically find happiness and creativity in your work?
I think I really enjoy it when I hand over the work to the client or to either people I collaborate with on shoots and seeing the joy they get from it. I love that part of it because it’s just showing that all the work that we put into this, here’s the result, and they’re happy about it. Just the happiness at the end is exciting! Also depending on how big the project is, the fusion of creatives because you get to exchange ideas and create something much bigger.
Do you have a favorite shoot that you’ve done recently?
The shoot was just supposed to be inspired by the colors on peacocks. I decided to expand it to Peacocks and Swans after doing some research about them I found a story titled Feathers and Fools, a peacock and swan who lived in peace until sensing fear about what one could do that the other could not. It made me think of colorism in the community and I wanted to highlight harmony as that is all we should strive for. This amongst the two symbolizes strength and beauty as well as being considered egotistical. I think that’s what many people think or just jump to the negative when they see beautiful black men and women. They are so quick to overlook the beauty and strength and jump straight to judgemental.
Another shoot I did was about cosmetics and basically how during the lockdown, surgery and consultations in the UK had skyrocketed. I enjoyed this one because it was something everyone could relate to and express vulnerability about. I’m not the biggest photographer, however, I got so many dm’s from men and women expressing the project was on point with how they felt. Some even shared if they made any changes. I liked that one because people cared so much about the topic as well as the image and what I was trying to convey was received. messages from people saying how it was them at one point and whether they went through with it. I liked that one because people cared about the topic as much as they did the image.
Are there any challenges you’ve experienced in your career? Can you share some of them?
So many! People sometimes underestimate the things that go into the job or they can overestimate it. Some people hide me as a photographer not realizing that they’re asking me to also do a producer and creative director’s job too. So I’m left to plan everything from stylists to call sheets. Then to make it worse a lot of people expect the editing process to be ten minutes then they get the photo right away. When in reality hours are poured into retouching and color grading.
Is there any particular part of film that you want to step into that you haven’t yet?
I’ve actually directed a music video before! I directed it for one of my friends for a song called “Messi” by Siah, but I actually really love film alongside photography. It’s something I want to dabble in although I know how much time goes into the editing side and I already stare at the screen a lot now!
If you enjoyed our interview with Judith Rita, check out our chat with Miami photographer Angie Vero!