Liberia-born and Los Angeles-based fashion model Deddeh Howard wants to promote more racial diversity in fashion advertising. For her new photo project, titled Black Mirror, Howard faithfully recreated major ad photos from top brands with herself as the model.
“We are bombarded everyday with flashy advertisement, billboards and television ads that try to inspire us to buy the products that are hitting the market,” Howard writes. “Something that always bothered me when you see these amazing images that very rarely you ever see a black woman on them.”
“More equal visibility of all races, being it white, black, Asian, Latino etc would help all of us believing in our potential,” she continues. “I hope this project can help to bring awareness back to the positive side of black people.”
The entire project took about 3 months to complete, from concept to the final photos. Howard and her partner, photographer Raffael Dickreuter, did the photo shoots in their spare time on weekends and in the evenings, all on a minimal budget and generally in their apartment.
“The first criteria was to identify brands that truly never or almost never use black models and were we felt strongly that black models would look great representing them as well,” Howard tells PetaPixel. “We were surprised to find out that there were so many of them.”
“Then for each brand we tried to find a shot that was ideally famous and striking at the same time and that would look great when being re shot,” she says. “In the end it was important to have a diverse collection of different products as well, covering sunglasses, bags, jewelry etc to cover a broad range of the fashion industry.”
“Each image had to be carefully chosen, reverse engineered and we had to find the matching or similar clothing,” Howard says. “Getting the lighting and makeup to match and finding all the right props was key.”
“One of the biggest challenges was to track down a rare 1939 Indian motorcycle of which only very few exist as well as finding a matching location where also the sun is in the right place, so you would get correct shadows.”
In the end, Howard and Dickreuter ended up with a set of extremely accurate recreations.
“We need a diverse amount of inspiration for all of us,” Howard says.
Image credits: Photographs by Raffael Dickreuter and courtesy Deddeh Howard