We Love You: Photographer Bryon Summers Honors 1,000+ Black Males
Photographer Bryon Summers is traveling around the country with his camera in hand, taking intimate portraits of more than 1,000 Black males of all ages for his We Love You project. Summers aims to dispel the often dehumanizing and negative stereotypes of Black males portrayed in mainstream media. Summers wants to remind Black males of all ages that they belong, they are seen, and most importantly, that they are loved.
In Summers’ own words, from the We Love You site:
“The images we see in mainstream media depict us as less than human—thugs, suspects, and even more, dead and discarded. These are the images that brainwash us into believing there is truth behind them. We are not worthless. We are not trash. We are someone’s son, brother, cousin, uncle, husband or father. We’re human. Through the art of photography, we can see just how human and how special we really are. Images can be powerful reinforcements. They can be examples of who we are and aspire to be.”
Summers was kind enough to answer a few questions for me about his project:
How would you describe the response to the We Love You project?
In the best way, the response has been overwhelming. It was surprising to see the amount of people of all races and genders who have supported the project by participating, bringing people out, or just spreading the word.
Can you describe a particular response one of your subjects has had to being photographed that has stayed with you?
One of the coolest responses I’ve heard in every city so far is people saying that sitting for a photo, for this series, is their first act of protest.
How do you feel when you look through the pictures you've taken so far?
I feel support and love. Looking through these images, I see each Black man as a unique individual—we are all so different, but yet we relate to so much together. I also feel the power of all of these images together. One portrait by itself is cool, but over 400 to date on the road, and working towards 1,000, is epic.
Summers also offered this reflection on his own participation in and hopes for the project:
“I had a chance to be a subject when the project came to DC. It felt right since I'm a native son of PG County, MD, and the DMV. I just hope every city shows and spreads love.”
In a Vimeo video about this project, Summers (pictured below on the left) explains how the series is his act of protest: “As a photographer, I feel like that’s my voice; my voice is louder through images.”
The We Love You project is currently on tour in 2016, connecting Black males and reclaiming their images in a loving light. Summers has also created t-shirts for the project with all proceeds going to social justice organizations and the families of police brutality victims. Check the website for the latest schedule, or follow We Love You on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.