When the 19 year old photographer came across a tweet highlighting the drastically different Google search results for the words, “four black teens” and “four white teens”, Loftin was hurt. As it turned out, the search for white teens yielded images of happy kids, in school, engaging in enjoyable social activities, while the results for black teens displayed mostly mugshots and photos of teens in police custody.
Baffled by the inability to find positive images of black teens, Myles set out on a mission, one that lead him to create HOODED, a photo and video project that “humanizes and decriminalizes the societal image of black boys and black men dressed in hoodies.” Loftin elaborates further on the HOODED concept stating:
“The media has always put a negative light on black men in hoodies and even when you google “black boy hoodie” you get images of criminals while the search “white boy hoodie” produces cookie cutter stock photos of white teenagers smiling. I photographed four black teens/men and portrayed them in a positive light that is in direct contrast of the media representation that has oppressed us. The final product is a series of photographs, screenshots and a film that attempts to shift perception.”
The HOODED project is absolutely brilliant, both conceptually and visually. Opening with quotes from Hillary Clinton and George Zimmerman, in a mere 3 minutes Myles’ short film effectively captures the dangerous pattern of creating and reinforcing Black male stereotypes in news reports. Loftin then combats the stereotype by providing a rare, precious glimpse of Black boy joy, playfulness and brotherhood.
Vibrant and emotional, the impact of HOODED is immediate; it demonstrates the vital importance of authentic, positive portrayals of Black males if we are to change the way they are perceived in American society. In an interview with Creators, Loftin affirms:
“it’s sort of my responsibility as a black male photographer to create a positive representation of my peers.”
I’d say Myles is well on his way of doing exactly that. For more information on HOODED, visit Myles Loftin Photography online.