A view between worlds: elevated visions with artist Shingi Rice
Image Credit: Adobe Stock / Shingi Rice.
Shingi Rice is a true child of the world, tracing British-Irish heritage through her father and Zimbabwean lineage through her mother, while calling Spain the home closest to her heart. As a self-taught fashion and portrait photographer with an eye for beautiful color and an emotional connection with her subjects that shines through the lens, it’s hard to imagine Rice as invisible — but when she’s behind the camera, that’s her goal.
“The key to photography is trying to pretend you're not there,” she says. “You're invisible to the subject you're photographing, because as soon as people know that there's a camera there, they're gonna start posing, trying to look good for the camera, and it's about keeping it natural.”
A turning point
It isn’t just her international upbringing that offered Rice a wider perspective on the world; she was also inspired to an “awakening” at the age of 20, after undergoing open-heart surgery. Prior to that, Rice had taken her parent’s advice to move away from photography as a career and seek something more stable, but her illness and recovery made everything different.
“I underwent open heart surgery in my last year of college, going through such a life changing experience like that where you know, anything can happen, it really put me in [a state of mind like], ‘Okay, I'm gonna do photography, no one could tell me what to do now,’” said Rice. “My parents understood that. They knew how passionate I was about it.”
For her Artist Development Fund project, Rice got to explore another of her passions: representation, especially for women of color, LBGTQ+ people, and bodies that exist outside the norm of ableist and thin-centric fashion standards.
“For my entire existence, stock imagery has been very whitewashed,” Rice says. “When you scroll through stock imagery on Adobe Stock, and you see such diversity, it's empowering I would say.” Rice chose Queer Love as the name and focus of her commissioned project for Adobe Stock.
“The reason why I started Queer Love was to show people that love can exist in any way,” she says. “Having been supported by Adobe Stock, It's kind of saved my life in a way, because this is my community and being able to like bring these ideas to life, it's been very important. It's a big deal.”
Creating a sense of belonging is important to Rice, who describes photography as a refuge and a lifeline in a largely solitary childhood.
“As an only child it was pretty lonely, so I would explore, take pictures of everything,” she said. “And it got to a point where when I decided to go to art college, I realized that from all the self-portraiture and all the imagery that I had been taking, I really wanted to focus on photography.”
In addition to helping Rice determine her life’s work in photography, her open-heart surgery and healing process made wellness central to her professional practice. Rice keeps herself grounded through prayer, meditation, nature experiences, and yoga, and hopes to one day photograph landscapes in South America.
“I was attracted to the idea of photographing people's faces, capturing emotion,” she says. “And I'm also a big fan of nature landscapes, so I wanted to bring those two together. I find by bringing fashion into it you create a bigger story.”
Rice’s work has graced the cover of Vogue Italy, and she continues to hone her ambitions, which place an emphasis on finding the beauty in subjects often relegated to the margins of fashion photography.
“I believe for me, it's a continuous project of capturing radical beauty,” she says. “And I say radical beauty because the beauty that I see is not the beauty that is perceived in the media. I like to capture that rawness. I like to capture different faces, different skin colors, different hair textures, really the reality.”
Rice’s work is highly emotional, showing loving connection between queer subjects, and connection between photographer and model. When it comes to coaxing unusual subjects out from the shadows and into the light of media, there is eagerness, but also trepidation, and Rice has worked hard to earn the trust necessary to represent her community.
“People like myself are not in billboards, advertisement TV shows,” she says. “It's nice to see yourself: you feel important, you feel heard, you feel seen. And the media doesn't do a very good job at that. I think what I value the most from documentary work is the trust that people give me to enter their world.”
Explore Shingi Rice’s portfolio on Adobe Stock. Feeling inspired? Contribute your own images, video, and illustration to Adobe Stock.