Meet the Artist: Gregory Prescott

Gregory Prescott is a self-taught photographer who focuses on the beauty and sensuality of the human form. We’re proud to feature him in the latest group of artists in our Black Artists Print Shop.

headshot of Gregory Prescott

Can you tell us about your background as a photographer? When did you first pick up a camera?

I first picked up a camera about 30 years ago. I've always been an art lover and started off starting off studying illustration in college. Once I discovered the photography of Herb Ritts in the late 80s, I switched over to photography because it was a more instant art form. I loved his use of light and shapes and was intrigued. That was the beginning of my photography journey. I was self-taught. I believe an artistic eye is something that is within you and technique is learned. 

Do you see your own identities shaping your photographic perspective?

My work is all about diversity in art photography. As a Black photographer, I really wasn't seeing African Americans or other races and different types of models represented in art photography.  I felt like we as Black people should appreciate ourselves more as works of art. Today we are seeing it more, but back in the 80s and 90s it was pretty rare, so my mission was to shine light on the beauty of not only my people, but a broader spectrum of beauty altogether. 

What draws you to the human form as a subject?

When shot artistically, I find it very beautiful. Everyone is intrigued by the human form in one way or another, whether they want to admit it or not. A lot of people feel embarrassed that they are intrigued by the human form. I never really understood why it is so taboo; especially growing up in the South. I was a rare breed. For me, it is the first form of art ever created. It can be considered sinful to some eyes yet it was created by GOD. Especially with people of color, I would love for us to get over that taboo and embrace the beauty of ourselves.

What role does sensuality play in your work?

Some people may see my work as sensual and I guess some of it is, but the majority of the time, that is not what I'm going for. Nudity does not always mean sex, just something natural. But there is also diversity in sexuality so I do try to hit all points so anyone who is looking at my work can relate, no matter who they are culturally, physically, or sexually. 

Tell us more about the two pieces that are included in the Print Shop—Magnolia and White Feather?

Both photos for me were really random. You never know what response you'll receive from an image when shooting it. Magnolia was literally with a friend who came over to visit and we walked around my block in my neighborhood with my camera. We walked upon a magnolia tree, which is a tree that reminds me of Louisiana, where my parents currently live. I remember as a child visiting my grandmother and great aunt in Louisiana, seeing magnolia trees and the smell of the flowers. Today living in Los Angeles, I'm fascinated when finding a magnolia tree. I picked a flower off the tree and stuck it in my friend's hair and stood her in the parking lot behind my apartment and just like that, the image was created. No planning involved. 

With White Feather, I shot in my backyard when living in Brooklyn, New York. I was doing model agency testing at that time and at the end of the test shoot with that model, I remembered I found a white feather earlier and I grabbed it and asked her to place it in front of her face because I thought the contrast would be cool. It was one of the last shots from that day's shoot and it was also not planned. Sometimes the best shots can be something spontaneous. I didn't know I would get the response I did until I posted them on Instagram and both have become collector's items for so many people. I am very appreciative.

framed black and white photo of woman with magnolia
Magnolia in Irvine Slim frame
framed black and white photo of woman with magnolia
White Feather in Irvine Slim frame

Learn more about Gregory and his work at his website and Instagram page.