This #Pride, we’re truly proud to showcase the incredible array of talented LGBTQIA+ creators on our platform and beyond, starting with the photographer, Marcus Branch.
Marcus Branch is a Philadelphia-based photographer and artist whose work celebrates the BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ experience, embraces inclusivity, and contributes a broadened perspective of underrepresented communities. His honest and reflective images honor Black joy, light, and celebration amidst the darkness.
“I continue to preach about our capacity as humans, the power we possess and the ability to shape, challenge, and change the conversation,” Branch told Dazed.
A renaissance man with an affinity for portraiture, Branch graduated from the University of the Arts in 2014 with a BFA in Photography. Along the way, he also served as a rehearsal director and principal dancer in a dance theater company, a practicing filmmaker, and an internationally published model and photographer. Branch willingly juggles his passions and exhibits commitment and an undeniable love for the act and impact of creation.
The photographer has been globally recognized, having worked with star talent such as Dominique Jackson of FX’s “Pose” (in which Branch himself makes a cameo in season 3!), Philip Lim, Yara Shahidi, Tina Knowles, and Ari Lennox. His work has been featured in publications like Interview Magazine, i-D, Dazed, Afropunk, Marie Claire, Polaroid Magazine, Gay Times Magazine, Caldera Magazine, The Tenth Magazine, Vice Austria, and Urban Outfitters.
Branch was notably awarded the Robert Mapplethorpe Award by Off the Wall Gallery and Deemed one of 12 Top Fashion Photographers of Philadelphia.
You can check out their latest projects on Creatively here.
Caption: Meet Marcus Branch, a photographer, performer and director celebrating BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ experiences.
What is the first creative project you remember?
The first creative project I can remember is a magazine and associated blogs that I created in 2009, titled SKLTN-M (short for “Skeleton Magazine”). I would document and interview unique and intriguing individuals in Philadelphia, sharing their story and taking a step into their world. It was a passion project that turned into one hell of a portfolio piece come college.
Describe your aesthetic in three words.
Honest, Reflective, and Celebratory.
Photographed by Marcus Branch.
What was the most fulfilling collaboration you’ve worked on?
The most fulfilling collaboration I have worked on was just weeks before we all went into quarantine in 2020. I was asked to photograph Dominique Jackson, an icon in the ballroom community and Mother Elektra on FX’s “Pose,” for Marie Claire. Not only was I photographing a woman that I truly admire, but I was also a part of a team that was made up of Black and Brown creatives and queers; everything about this shoot aligned with my creative intentions. Before I began shooting, I pulled Dominique to the side and asked if there were any angles that she’d like me to stay away from to flatter her best, and her response still sticks with me: “You are here to capture our truth, no restrictions necessary.” My heart exploded.
The legendary Dominique Jackson for Marie Claire, photographed by Marcus Branch.
What’s one creative project that taught you something fundamental about yourself?
One creative project that taught me something fundamental about myself was a series I was commissioned to do for i-D magazine surrounding the 2020 election and (specifically) Pennsylvania’s democratic victory, and the youth that voted. I remember being entirely nervous for this shoot, innately. I had everything planned and lit, muses scheduled, assistants on hand, but I was still so nervous. I was nervous about the outcome and whether what was in my head would translate in the images, nervous about whether I organized this properly, if it would go as planned.
I then realized as I began photographing that my nerves were being misunderstood and misplaced. My nerves were coming from a place of fear, a fear of failing or letting down those involved. I don’t like to live in or through fear, but in and through love. I learned just how capable I am, even in the thick of doubt, to cultivate and organize a space of love, reflection, and honesty.
“Leading a Pathway to Change: Young Voters of PA on Changing the State Blue,” photographed by Marcus Branch for i-D.
Do you think creativity is something you’re born with, or something you’re taught?
I believe creativity is something that everyone is born with, it’s just a matter of who decides to exercise it.
What’s the last dream you had?
The last dream that I had, that I can remember, is in shambles, almost like a movie trailer. I remember small parts, like vignettes. My dreams as of late have involved adventure, a lot of adventure. They have also involved forms of “the end.” Not just natural disaster, rapture-like forms of “the end,” but terroristic, government-issued attacks. I’m talking helicopters, dropped bombs, and civil hysteria. It’s very cinematic, and dark at times. But hey, you asked.
One hundred years from now, what do you hope people write about your work?
One hundred years from now, I hope people write the truth. I obviously can’t dictate what will or would be written but I hope that it’s honest, reflective, and celebratory. I hope that they write that my work has contributed to dismantling toxic masculinity, celebrated the marginalized, gave light and voice to the unseen and unheard, and that it honestly reflected the times from my perspective.
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