There is Beauty in Truth: The Photography of Delphine Fawundu-Buford

Delphine Fawundu-Buford

Photographer Delphine Fawundu-Buford pictured above

Delphine Fawundu-Buford’s photography shows a part of humanity that is not one dimensional.  Her photography is intriguing because of its capacity to show beauty in truth. Delphine captured the strength of people in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the innocence of children and the many faces of women. Her work encourages you not to simply look, but also ponder the stories of the people in the photographs.

Delphine’s work has been featured in books, magazines, CD covers and greeting cards. She has traveled to many parts of the world including South Africa, Sierra Leone, Spain, Egypt, and Cuba to photograph.

Live Unchained is pleased to have had the opportunity to ask Delphine questions about her work and thoughts on photography. More of her photography can be viewed at:

On your website you highlight a collection of photos called “Real Women.” Can you tell us about that project? What inspired you to explore the idea of real women through photography? How did you choose what and whom to photograph for the project? Is there a specific message that you hope your viewers will gain from this collection?

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Photographs from "Real Women" by Delphine Fawundu-Buford

Real Women explores the idea of “beauty” in our society.  Who is beautiful? What makes a woman beautiful and by who’s standards? The project celebrates a myriad of women who reflect beauty in their own way.

I chose women from all walks of life. Some, I knew, others I met in passing.  The cool thing is that for some of the women, I had no idea what they looked like prior to shooting them.

As people look at this collection, I would like them to think about the “standards” that society creates which sometimes limits our perception of what is valid and not. Even beyond the societal standards of beauty — we live in a society that promotes a “normality” that tends to exclude and even demonize anything outside of that “normality (i.e religion, language, and other cultural values).”   This presents many conflicts in our society when dealing with people who reflect well established cultures that existed centuries before the development of Western  civilization. It is amazing how something as simple as beauty could have so many social and political ramifications.

Photograph from "Muddy Water Gumbo & High Tide Blues: New Orleans Post-Katrina" by Delphine Fawundu-Buford

When creating photos, in general, do you always or often have a message in mind that you hope your viewers will grasp from your pieces?

The beauty of art is that it is often viewed from so many perspectives.  Whenever I create a project, I have an idea that I would like to get across.  It is great when people see the point that I am making with this art. However, I love it when people see even more than I intended.  When this happens, I have the opportunity to examine my own art through a new lens, this is a beautiful thing.

What are some of your favorite themes to explore in photography?

My favorite themes to explore through the medium of photography are identity, social and political perspective, and culture.

Photograph from "Age of Innocence" by Delphine Fawundu-Buford

When choosing what to photograph, what do you try to control in the environment to take the picture and what are some of the things that you expect to be uncontrolled?

When creating art, I usually visualize what I want before approaching the subject matter.  Therefore, the things that are controlled are my tools.  I control what camera, lighting, props and to some degree which people  I will photograph.  The actual composition of the photograph happens within anywhere from seconds to a fraction of a second.   This portion is art in the making, uncontrolled, spontaneous, spiritual and beautiful.   The most rewarding thing is when I get what I visualized and more.  It’s an amazing feeling…simply because something new has been created.

One of the things I admire most about your work is how you capture people. In shooting a spontaneous smile or a pensive expression a viewer begins to feel a connection with the subject. The people seem natural and real. How do you pick what photos to use and which ones not to when putting together a collection?

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Photograph from "Hip Hop Moments" by Delphine Fawundu-Buford

I’m really not sure, this may sound strange, but the photos just stand out to me.  I immediately connect with the chosen photos…it’s beyond my control.  🙂

What are some of the responsibilities or considerations that a photographer takes on when photographing people, in general, and people of other cultures?

This is a very touchy situation because there is a fine line between exploitation and true representation.  I am totally against exploitation in a deep and passionate way.  Photographs are very subjective.   Hopefully, my love for humankind is reflected in any photo that I take whether within or outside of my culture.

Is there anything else you want to share with the contributors and supporters of Live Unchained?

I am so glad that this site exists – please continue to support and share.  Let’s make a big deal out of this.

What does living unchained mean to you?

Living unchained is living unrestricted, open-minded and free.

One response to “There is Beauty in Truth: The Photography of Delphine Fawundu-Buford

  1. Delphine Fawundu-Buford is a cultural icon of her time. Her photos provide a rich overview of Black life and society in urban america today. We are blessed to have the opportunity to see a little bit of the world through her eyes and perspective. Keep Shooting, Ma!

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