Photo credit: Lisa Brown/HealHer Photography

A photo series debuting at The Light Factory this weekend will feature the work of seven Black female photographers. 

The exhibit, “Black Gaze: Through a Woman’s Eyes,” is the culmination of almost a year’s work from a mentorship headed by photographer Titus Heagins. The 10-month commitment, comprised of workshops and group meetings, is intended to help photographers build a portfolio and focus on their craft.

This is the second installment of Heagins’ series “Black Gaze” and the first time a mentee group has been entirely comprised of Black women. 

The “Black Gaze” series and mentorship were birthed from Heagins’ experience in the photography field, which he says lacks diversity. Heagins’ recalled a previous exhibition he participated in that showcased the work of 67 photographers. 

Photo courtesy of Titus Heagins

Only four of those photographers — including Heagins — were Black. 

“The question is, for me, why is that?” Heagins told QCity Metro. The answer, it turns out, was mentorship — or rather, a lack thereof, for aspiring photographers. 

“This American notion of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps… that’s all a fiction,” Heagins said. “People get to where they are because someone shows them the path.” 

Heagins wanted the workshop participants to see photography as more than just snapping a photo. “Photography is not simply about or not solely about image creation, but it’s also about how you can develop a photographic language that can describe your work,” he said. 

Heagins said that his work is about telling people’s stories and helping people understand the plight of others in the world. He said he hopes the same understanding comes from the upcoming exhibit. 

Director of Exhibitions at The Light Factory and mentorship facilitator Brittani Taylor said that for many of the women in the mentorship, this is their first time being able to present their work to a large group of people. 

She added that she enjoyed watching the photographers grow from an idea to a finished work framed on the wall. 

“You can do this. This is possible,” Taylor said. 

One of the photographers, Trinity Thompson, said this will be her first time participating in an exhibition. Thompson said she is excited for people to see her work as well as the work of her fellow photographers. 

Thompson said being in a workshop with other Black women was comforting and relatable. “It’s just like a warmness.”

Another workshop participant, Lisa Brown, had participated in Black-woman-centered workshops before and shared the same sentiments as Thompson. She said it is important to be a part of programs that “want [her] there.” 

As the exhibit’s name suggests, the photos will center on a Black woman’s perspective on the world. 

Brown told QCity Metro her pieces focus on the connection Black women have to nature. “I use a [combination] of plants and trees and fungi to show a relationship between two main characters, which are the plant matter and the brown woman.”

Thompson’s pieces center on her Southern Pines upbringing. 

“What I want people to take away when seeing my work is now just as much as we work hard, we also need rest,” Thompson said. 

If you go

  • Date: May 27
  • Time: 6:00 pm
  • Place: The Light Factory
  • Cost: Free

Amanda was born and raised in Charlotte and graduated from UNC Charlotte with a Bachelor’s in Communications and English. She covers Mecklenburg County. Reach her at

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