Your Contribution: Morgan offers her Photography to the World

morgan - photography

Millennials are proving to be a lot more than the narcissistic consumerists the older generation deem us to be, and Morgan Dezurn is living proof of this. At only 18 years-old she has created an impressive portfolio and she is working towards increasing representation of marginalised groups. She uses photography as her form of expression, to explore different colours and shadows with her subjects and expand on the notion of women as art. Morgan’s exploration of femininity is particularly notable, as she exposes a vulnerability which isn’t often connoted with black woman. She carries this same approach with the males she photographs, which challenges stagnant ideas of hyper-masculinity. There is a softness to her photography, almost as if she is capturing the image from a birds eye view without interrupting the subject.

We thank you Morgan for standing in your truth and contributing your gift to the world, we hope you continue to capture pure moments.

I want to be uncomfortable as an artist, always evolving and never playing it safe or downplaying myself.

When did you first realise you had a skill for photography?
I think it was my sophomore year of high school, I’m a senior now. I had always been interested in art, especially cinematography and fashion. I really loved the way I could create a different work inside of a film and that wearing certain clothes were an outward expression of your personality, or at least it was for me at the time. Unfortunately, my sophomore year was the year that I slowly started losing a passion for those two mediums, but fortunately I gained a passion for something else at the same time. That passion was for photography.

The contrast between photography and cinematography really intrigued me. In cinematography, you get to create this whole sequence of events and allow them to play out in order to convey a certain emotion/theme/ message, but in photography you have to work within frames. You have to encompass a whole emotion/theme/message in a single shot and that really is a challenge. That is what really made me good at photography, I guess, being able to comprehend that I can create a whole cinematic world in a frame if I shot it correctly. I think my understanding is what made me realize I had a knack for photography.

Are you in school for photography or are you self-taught?
I would say both. I was first shooting photography with my old Toshiba camcorder and don’t get me wrong I created some beautiful work with that little camera, but it wasn’t really teaching me what I needed to know to be a great photographer. To do that, I need to have a “real camera.” (I really hate saying that. A “real camera.” A great lesson to be learnt is that you do not need an expensive name brand camera to be a photographer. I wish I had known that when I was younger.)

My sophomore Chemistry teacher overheard me saying that I was interested in photography and I don’t remember how the conversation went, but it ended with me being able to borrow one of his expensive cameras for the duration of summer. That summer I taught myself a lot about aperture, shutter speed, focal length, and such, but I still felt like I was lacking some. I don’t know if that was the ideals of the American school system telling me that I need to be formally taught in order to understand an art, but by next school year I signed up for Photo Studio. There I was taught about composition, tonality; and all the little intricacies of photography really. I am currently in Advanced Placement Photography and I am learning how to construct a concentration photograph series, which is exciting.

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images from Morgan

A lot of your subjects are women/girls. Do you make it a point to explore different types of femininity?
It has always been a goal of mine to give representation to marginalized and misrepresented individuals. For example, within the community I live in right now is predominately Black and Christian. Due to this, there is a huge lack of understanding/empathy with our Asian population and Jewish population, so I made it a point to take photographs of my Asian and Jewish friends in a way that captures their personality truthfully. I want to show that yes, they are different from us, but that is not a bad thing. Diversity is crucial.

In regard to my subjects being women/girls, I think it is because I connect well with them. I know a woman’s struggle because I live through it every day and because of that I am able to connect with my subjects beforehand. In the shoot, we are allowed to be completely vulnerable with each other and those are where the great photographs come from, trust and openness.

I want to get to a point where I make such good photography that I don’t have any self-doubt.

On set what type of interaction do you have with your subjects?
I enjoy making my subjects feel safe. Like I am just one of their annoying best friends that love taking pictures of them. I have modelled in the past and some of the experiences I had were very strict, borderline hostile. I remember how uneasy I was and how that affected the shoot. I keep that in mind whenever I am shooting with someone, that what we are doing is a two way street. We both have to bring in 100% to make the shoot work.

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Something I enjoy from your photography is the use of colour and shadows. Do you have particular themes that you explore in your photography?
Firstly, thank you. I have never gotten a sweeter compliment. I am very sporadic with my work, I don’t really stick to one technical theme because I do not want to get too comfortable with it. Though I do love monochromatic images, I don’t want to fall into the path where all my images look the same because I only know how to do one thing. I want to be uncomfortable as an artist, always evolving and never playing it safe or downplaying myself. I can’t say I am exploring any themes in particular because I am exploring all things I can think of.

Create as though those things are a reflection of you and if you find them looking similar to everyone else, change yourself.

How do you find inspiration for your shoots?
I gather information from anything, as cliché as it sounds. It could be a word that I hear in a discussion, an article, or clothing that I see someone wear, a song, a dream that I had, or a minute moment in a television show. I have become receptive of my surroundings in the last few years and allowing some tendencies of synaesthesia to run free.

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You’re only 18 and you’ve already created a beautiful body of work. What are some of your future goals in terms of photography?
For myself, I want to be able to look back on my work and feel no regret in the way I produced the photo. Currently, I reflect on my work and think “oh, I could have done better on that” or “this could be better” or simply “I hate this, why did I do this.” I want to get to a point where I make such good photography that I don’t have any self-doubt.
In a time of increasing trends and uniformity, what advice would you give for people to stay true to themselves?
Create as though those things are a reflection of you and if you find them looking similar to everyone else, change yourself.

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