New York-based photographer Rochelle Brock describes her work as “all over the place but not in a bad way”. With an interest in fashion, editorial, beauty, documentary and fine art photography, Brock has encapsulated elements from all of these approaches to create a style that is bold and inviting.
“My style is inspired by my environment, the people I’m surrounded by, and heavily influenced by all the things I kind of wanted to create but never thought that I could because I didn’t see women who looked like me as artists,” she tells CR. “I still have moments where I take a cool picture and think ‘wow I can’t believe I created that’.”
Brock got into photography during her junior year of high school and she enjoyed taking pictures she could later manipulate and experiment with in Photoshop. “I went to a music and arts high school in Brooklyn and while there I also took a lot of pictures of my friends who did music which helped me transition into the blogging world and then beauty and fashion,” she says.
The photographer is mostly self-taught, but she has dipped her toe into academia having initially enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York straight after high school. In 2019, she returned to studying after receiving a scholarship to the year-long Creative Practices programme at the International Center of Photography. “That has sort of ignited my love for learning again and I am planning on finishing my degree in 2022,” Brock notes.
A big part of Brock’s work is being “size-inclusive” and she proudly states this on all her channels. “I want people and potential clients to know a few things: that I’ve taken the time and put in the work to know how to be able to photograph all different types of body shapes; that I don’t put a size limit on the people I want in my portfolio; and that my main goal when I have someone in front of my camera is to make sure they are comfortable and feel confident,” she explains.
“I state that openly because I believe everyone deserves to be depicted in fashion and beauty and I would like to continue to make that happen.”
Using rich tones and beautiful close crops, Brock’s favourite subject is people and you’ll often see returning faces in her images simply because she works with her friends a lot. “I like to tell their stories, stories surrounding body image, mental health, inclusivity, and things like that,” she says. “I also like when my work doesn’t evoke those emotions because I like to just take pretty pictures – sometimes that is enough.”
Having been commissioned by Time magazine, Universal Standard, Polyester and New York magazine among many others, creating work for other platforms allows Brock to bring her own ethos to her professional work. “I love that I have gotten the chance to be in a place where people want me to do their editorials or they see my work and want to hire me for their commercial campaigns,” she says. “As I mentioned before, until recently I’ve never seen Black plus-size women photographers and it is awesome being in those spaces and being that representation.”
As much as Brock’s work is aesthetically pleasing, her main goal is for people to look at her photography and recognise the women they’ve known their whole lives in it. “I want people to see that the beauty standard is slowly starting to change and that everyone is deserving of being preserved in art,” she says.
“My work has allowed me to see that I am deserving of all of those things too. I’ve never wanted to be in front of the camera until I realised this. While it is always easy to make others feel good I still struggled with my confidence. I am grateful that my work has done that for me as well.”
CR is collaborating with Black Women Photographers on a series of articles to amplify the work of its members. To find out more about the global community and database, plus its ongoing initiatives, visit blackwomenphotographers.com; rochellefatleopard.com