Renell Medrano: Truth seeker

Whether shooting strangers on the street or photographing famous faces – most recently Kendrick Lamar and Serena Williams – Renell Medrano’s imagemaking is defined by a determination to get to the heart of the subject

Most creatives’ upbringing will have some bearing on their practice, be it subconsciously or by deliberation. For Renell Medrano, her childhood is woven into every image she creates. Born and raised in the Bronx, she began photographing friends and strangers in New York from the age of 14 using her mum’s point-and-shoot camera. Her summers, meanwhile, were spent in the Dominican Republic, where she would document her extended family and the place they called home.

Since pursuing photography professionally, Medrano, now 30, has built up an accomplished portfolio of work for fashion and beauty brands such as Burberry and Fenty, as well as publications including Interview and Vogue.

Top: Album art for Mr Morale & the Big Steppers by Kendrick Lamar; Above: Venus and Serena Williams for Harper’s Bazaar
Venus and Serena Williams for Harper’s Bazaar

Reflecting on how her practice has evolved, the photographer cites the fact that the people and places she grew up around were rarely depicted as subjects of beauty as one of her biggest sources of inspiration today. “Obviously, what I was surrounding myself with was super-raw beauty to me, and I feel like that’s what I carry in my work and what I try to aim for,” she tells CR.