We had the good fortune of connecting with Latife Whittington and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Latife, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I was born and raised in Nuremberg, Germany. I moved to Southern California in 2012, I was 13 and I didn’t know the English language very well at the time. As I reflect and think back on my childhood in Germany, it was really weird for me as a mixed black girl. I was living in a country that was dominantly white and I grew up not liking certain features about myself, like my natural hair. When I moved to the U.S. everything started changing for me. I was in a whole new country with a completely different culture and diverse people. As time started passing I learned a lot more about black culture. Growing up in a dominantly white country did rob me of certain black experiences like getting a protective hairstyle done in a hair salon. The only thing that I’ve ever gotten done was getting my hair semi-permed and straightened a few times a year because I really wanted to have straight hair. I didn’t like my natural hair at the time and always wished for straight hair. I also never really knew how to take care of my own hair and which hair products to use to maintain healthy hair until I moved to California. Over the years I started learning about black culture and I started becoming more aware of white supremacy, everyday microaggressions towards black people and people of color, and racism. Looking back at my childhood memories in Germany, I don’t ever really remember people talking about racism. It happened but people weren’t talking about it enough so people like me never really seem to catch microaggressions or acts of racism. Moving to California made me reconnect with my black side. I was learning and still am learning about black culture, continuously informing and learning about white supremacy and racism and how those affect communities and groups of people, and of course how to love myself and my black features.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I started my photographic journey in 2012/2013 when I was in the 8th grade. I had the opportunity to take photography courses at the Barstow Community College. Since then, I’ve experimented with different photographic styles, techniques, and genres. I started taking photography seriously after High School and attended the Art Institute of California – Inland Empire in San Bernardino and completed my A.S. in Digital Photography before their campus shut down in 2018. When I went to the Art Institute learning photography and photographic techniques in-depth, I was trying to figure out what exactly I wanted to do. What did I love to shoot? How should I edit my photos? What’s my overall style? I didn’t quite figure it out at that school. Everything we learned at that school leaned into the commercial world. In Fall 2019 I ended up transferring into Otis College of Art and Design and enrolled in their Fine Arts Department. It was a whole new environment for me and a curriculum based around art history and theoretical essays. It took a while for me to get used to it but I got used to it and settled in quickly with the help of my peers in the Fine Arts Department. Now, after the Spring 2021 semester, I’m a college graduate with a BFA in Photography. I feel like my time at Otis really helped me explore photography on a more creative side and gave me more perspective on the art world and helped open myself up with new things and ideas to play and experiment around with. For example, when I was applying to Otis I had to create a new portfolio and had to shoot new work for it. At the time I was living back at home with my parents and on the job hunt so I had to work with the resources I had around me and I couldn’t afford models and I was in a small town so there aren’t many models or people seriously pursuing modeling to work with. I ended up taking portraits of myself in different settings. I’ve experimented with self-portraiture since and is now a huge part of my personal photography practice.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If my best friend was visiting the area I’d probably take them to a few places. I’d take them to the Santa Monica Pier and get on the Ferris Wheel there. The view from that pier over the ocean is amazing. I’d also take them to a beach, not sure which specific beach honestly but just a beach where we can go watch the sunset. Watching the sunset over the ocean is amazing and really mesmerizing as well as super calming. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would definitely say my parents and family deserve a shoutout as well as a friend of mine, Gena Rynae, who actually connected me with shoutout LA. I would also like to give a few shoutouts to a few of my peers that I’m going to art school and about to graduate with like Min Htet, Erick Cortes, Julia Landis, Courtney McGinnis, Joseph Little Moon Hernandez, Molly Dickler, and Brianna Saenz.
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