“It’s full of magic”: Dominique Booker shares her organic conversations of the African diaspora
The Germany-based photographer and casting director tells us why she launched Positive / Negative – an interview project about Black women in Germany.
- Ayla Angelos
- 13 July 2020
- Reading Time
- 4 minute read
Although training as a graphic designer, Dominique Booker, the now-photographer, casting director and founder of Positive / Negative, decided to go back to university in her early 20s to pursue a further degree. That course was communication design. “I am an observer by nature so getting into photography came naturally,” she tells It’s Nice That, “but I never thought of it as a career.” Although opting to sharpen her skills in graphic design at first, she gravitated heavily towards photography and soon enough she landed an internship with Jonas Lindstroem – who, at the time, she was able to work alongside in with film and photography.
Ever since then, Dominique has been working as a casting director and photographer. Although finding it somewhat difficult to define her work, she tells us: “I’d say my work is an analysis of the world-wide connection of the African diaspora captured by an introverted daydreamer with a deep-rooted love for (neo)soul music.” Dominique has drawn from her interests and channelled her ethos into launching something of her own – an interview project about Black women in Germany, titled Positive / Negative.
Founded six years ago during her days at university, it was after reading Showing Our Colors: Afro-German Women Speak Out by May Ayim, Katharina Oguntoye and Dagmar Schultz that she became innately inspired. Tasked with the brief to create a publication on a subject of their choice, Dominique decided to make something that she could connect with on a personal level. “Which led me to myself, to who I am – a Black woman, born and raised in Germany,” she says. As such, the interviews found within this project steer towards everything from journeys to identity, experiences with racism and colourism, as well as her subject’s different backgrounds and occupations – but so much more too.
“I decided to share our first conversations because I felt that there was a lot of richness in these interviews, that others, specifically the Black community in Germany, could benefit from,” she continues to explain. This is because the authentic representation of Black women or Black people in Germany, in particular, is scarce. “I put them online because it was the quickest way and continued with further interviews afterwards.” Over the last few years, Dominique has had the utmost pleasure in speaking with over 40 women, and there are still so many stories that she’s yet to update. Rousing and steering change, it’s no surprise to hear that this project was the gateway into her finding her passion for photography and purpose.
As for how she formulates her ideas and meets her subjects – not just for Positive / Negative but for her wider portfolio, too – Dominique seeks out windows of opportunity in order to create her personal work. She refers to them as windows purely for the fact that these moments are fleeting and it all takes places within a short time frame. “I immediately look for faces and personalities that I’d love to create with,” she says, “and then I mostly try to meet up with people in their own surroundings to make them feel more comfortable and to learn more about where I’m at.” After this moment, everything else falls into place pretty spontaneously and organically. “I don’t give a lot of direction because I want to show people’s real beauty and spirit without manufacturing it too much for my own aesthetics, and I don’t believe in forcing anything in life. I like to get to know the person that I’m about to capture so I have a better understanding of who they are from within.”
Usually, these relationships are formed within a couple of hours, and it’s clear that Dominique has a knack for letting her subjects feel at ease in front of the camera. She’s also driven by the notion of identity and the “endless doors” that it opens, meaning that she’s constantly on the lookout for interesting narratives and ways to build and document them. “This might sound corny but to me, every individual image has their own unique story, which makes it special to me,” she tells us, noting how she prefers not to single out any specific imagery. “My work is inevitably connected to the experience of two strangers meeting and creating with one another (simultaneously!) – which makes every encounter special!” She says, conclusively: “Creating together, in every shape or form, means being vulnerable together, which is a very rare action in today’s society but it’s also full of magic.”