Atlanta, Georgia is a creative bubble for young Black entrepreneurs alike, including artists, designers, and photographers with massive potential. One in particular, Marquise Eppinger, is an outstanding editorial photographer trailblazing his own path within the city. Born and raised in Decatur, the world of film was introduced to him in high school. From there, Marquise has developed his sense of style and shared innovative portraits that capture creative moments across Black culture.
“There’s so much more to show for us, there are so many realms and aesthetics that you can give in a camera. I feel like a lot of people give Atlanta this rep of what it looks like and I want to break that viewpoint,” he shares. “I want to give people who want an editorial esque, a deeper look into that.” Marquise Eppinger is also the owner of The Experience Studios, a private photography studio based in Atlanta.
For our latest Behind The Lens interview, Marquise Eppinger chats with us about his introduction to photography, highlights in his career, and much more! Read below.
Tell me about your introduction to photography, was it your first pick for a career choice?
My first career choice was audio engineering or choreography. I love music and when I was coming up, I loved to dance so I was already in that creative field. Basketball was my bread and butter in high school, and I tore my ACL during our senior, but I found my way into film and video. It took over my whole life and at that point, I felt like that was my calling. Photography didn’t come until I got back from Arizona State, and when I came back to Atlanta I got an internship where I learned for a while.
I really like the “Chocolate Sundae” shoot you did back in July, what was the creative direction behind that?
Me and my makeup artist, John had been seeing the model for a while. He really wanted to shoot her so I wanted to take the film aesthetic and add my own style to it. We were going to do a motel at first but I couldn’t find any in Atlanta; we ended up going with this trailer on PeerSpace. I wanted to give the photos this old-time feel but with a modern twist to it. From there, it just kind of worked out creatively and used the shadows to my advantage. It took a life of its own when I saw the pictures.
Through the lens of many Black creatives, we witness the beauty and power of our skin although it can often go unrecognized. What drives you as a photographer to capture and create moments in Black culture?
Just seeing how photography and culture can change someone. There’s so much more to show for us, there are so many realms and aesthetics that you can give in a camera. I feel like a lot of people give Atlanta this rep of what it looks like and I want to break that viewpoint. I want to give people who want an editorial esque, a deeper look into that. I think for me as a Black creative, giving others another perspective and being in tune with yourself. A lot of times as photographers, we feel like we have to change up to fit someone else’s viewpoint.
I know in the Atlanta area, Cam Kirk is a trailblazer for photographers alike—did or do you have any inspirations in regards to your field of work?
I went to the studio for a class when I was first started, and that was my first time understanding the photography studios in Atlanta. Sometimes it would be overwhelming going in places like that because you got all these people watching, especially for me as a starting photographer. As far as our studio, Cam Kirk Studios trailblazed the path we had took. Especially seeing the way they market themselves and how Cam has become this entity bigger than photography. I think that has impacted us because now there are probably like four or five Black-owned studios.
The “Not Available” shoot was also another one that caught my eye, tell me about how you use lighting and colors to bring emotion to your work.
That’s a good one! I think for me, the biggest thing is true to color. I try to keep my images as true and natural as when I saw it but I also want to give it my vibe to set them apart. A lot of people think I’m a film photographer, but I do have a certain film aesthetic that I love. Taking certain details from movies like lighting and where they place the characters helps my work. I think at this point, I want the colors to be realistic especially since I want a lot of my work to be printed.
If you could choose one musician or celebrity to be your muse, who would it be and why?
It would probably be Grace Jones, she would be one of my top ones. Naomi Campbell, she’s so amazing. Winnie Harlow would be one my top ones, I don’t know how she is but she has some amazing content. There’s not a lot of celebrities that catch my attention, but definitely Rihanna. Model-wise, Bella Hadid would be really cool.
If you enjoyed our interview with Marquise Eppinger, check out our interview with Nico Kartel!