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Campbell Addy is the Photographer educating, not irritating, and celebrating diversity

A photographer, author, curator and overall visionary, Campbell Addy has done almost everything. Born into a British and Ghanaian family, Campbell grew up in a religious home in-between cultures.

“I come from an interesting place of belonging: we’re neither here nor there when it comes to our connection to places. In the UK I am ‘black’ British or ‘African black’ British, yet in Ghana I am British, so it’s an interesting take on the world when you start tapping into the wealth of culture you’ve inherited by simply being born in a different country to your family.” Campbell Addy in an interview from It’s Nice That

Campbell Addy photographed by Thurston Redding

He spent 17 years being a Jehovah Witness, a religious group that defined his youth and informs some of his creative practice today. Campbell incorporates his past experience from being a member and his breakaway to live freely as a gay man. Which is seen as a sin by the church.  A recent exhibition of his, titled scripture Matthew 7:7&8  (“seek, and ye shall find”) explores this journey and speaks to his relationship with God. It discusses complex ideas of religion, sexuality and race. Another exhibition of his called Engender, explores the juxtaposition and intersection between multiple identities and themes.

His artistic practice is also modeled around a desire to document life as he see’s it and create a space to share and celebrate new ideas and unheard identities. People form the basis of his creativity, inspiring him through his own observations. A creative at heart, Campbell began his journey early exploring famous photographers at school. He continued his creative journey at Central St Martins in London, where he completed a BA in Fashion Promotion and Communication. Since then he has photographed for Vogue,  the Wall Street Magazine and a countless list of celebrities.

But he is more than a photographer, Campbell is the founder and creator of Niijournal and Nii Agency. Niijournal is a  publication that offers a space to create and share without restriction or judgement. Its mantra is as humours as it is necessary, saying that the journal is “here to educate, not irritate.”

Its content is centered towards people of colour where black and brown voices can be given a platform to share their stories. Its an important contribution that highlights marginalised narratives and challenges existing stereotypes. Each issue of his is a collaborative process where he works with a team of people. The different issues focus on various themes and ideas, all relevant to redefining current ideas and identities. It was first published in 2016, and has since amassed to three versions. The very first one focused on was an exploration of religion through mediums such as photojournalism, poetry and fashion imagery. While the second, was a testament to diversity and representation in race. The most recent version of the Niijournal documents the multiple different ways people interact and the relationships between them. From family, friends, community spaces like churches to ever growing Black LGBTQ communities, Campbell explores these ties in an intimate and heart-warming way. Nii Agency is an extension of this effort to improve and celebrate diversity in creative spaces. It is a casting agency dedicated to diverse representation in modelling.

After spending time as a photographer in a space lacking in both diversity and representation, his photographs offer a tender look into complex, underrepresented and often misunderstood voices. The kind of photographs we wish we were seeing more of.

By Raramai Campbell
Cover Photo by Campbell Addy