Discover more from Tender Photo
I am taken back to another version of myself.
Mimosa Shah on 3 photographs in the Tender Photo archive.
A reflection of a woman staring at a mannequin in a shop display while walking by. The backs of two young men sitting shirtless while playing a video game at home. A pale pink plumed figure posed beneath a golden light inside a restaurant entryway. These are just three of the many rich photos that caught my eye—no, made me stop, not just pause.
This newsletter is called “Tender Photo,” and like the photos featured, each issue gradually relinquishes pressure and allows me to see things that I didn't notice before.
My eyes, so accustomed to darting back and forth amidst the endless scroll of online media, are captivated, lulled, brought back to memories of images I've framed in my mind, photos I wish I could have taken but instead revisit me in half-caught dreams.
Whether it's the hurried pace of a passerby window-shopping, or the casual intimacy of close friends hanging out, or the cool repose of a model amidst a panoply of color, I am drawn: impressionable, considered, cared for. And I am taken back to another version of myself, walking, with a camera strapped around my neck, taking a daily photo walk, eager to see and see again.
Bernard Kalu speaks of the “pause button to an ever-pacing world.” Nengi Nelson ensures that those who collaborate with her come as they are, creating conditions for candid images. Sierra Nallo aims for a conversation in colour and mood, a juxtaposition that grows organically between herself, the model Taiwo, and the scene around them. All three photographers and their work remind me of the delicacy and necessity of a generous and generative curiosity. A sense of wonder for the spaces and people we want to say a yes, yes, and a yes to amidst the harshness of our indifferent society.
About Mimosa Shah
Mimosa Shah (she/her) is Associate Curator for the Schlesinger Library at Harvard Radcliffe Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Trained as a librarian, she is interested in critical information literacy strategies; inclusive pedagogy; online communities and their practices of media production and consumption; zines and artists' books; and contemporary photography. A dedicated amateur, Mimosa hopes to finally take a real course someday on the skill and craft of making a photograph. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Support Tender Photo
This is the #3 edition of Correspondences, a pop-up series on Tender Photo, published every Saturday from March 4–May 20, 2023. I have asked a few writers to find “correspondences” between 3 photographs from the archive, chosen without constraint on style, and to write short commentaries on their choice. The goal is to open up Tender Photo’s editorial and curatorial process to an engaged group of readers, broadening the diversity of responses to the varied work featured so far.
Tender Photo is a bi-weekly newsletter on African photography, published Wednesdays and Saturdays. See the archive for more features on early to mid-career photographers. If this newsletter was shared with you, consider subscribing, or forward to a friend. Please whitelist the newsletter to ensure you never miss it.