Artist Spotlight: Aminatta Mbow


Noelle Walker, Miscellany Editor-in-Chief

Aminatta Mbow, senior graphic design major, has always had an interest in photography. 


In high school, it was moreso outside appreciation, but it wasn’t until she went to a College Media Mega Workshop in 2019 with The George-Anne that she was able to get hands-on experience and realized that photography was something she really wanted to do. After that experience, she bought her first camera and has been taking photos ever since. 


Mbow said she feels that one of the reasons she was able to go into photography a little easier is because of graphic design. She’s the Creative Editor-in-Chief at Student Media, and when she was designing Reflector Magazine, she was able to see photographers and their processes which also inspired her and pushed her to be the best photographer she can be. 


She said that, in the future, she wants to be able to marry the two passions that she loves in her career: graphic design and photography. 


“A picture tells 1000 words, and I want to be able to showcase that with just like how people’s emotions are in photography or fashion or hair. I feel like it’s very important in how we display different messages, and I feel like it can be a very powerful tool,” said Mbow.


Mbow said she mainly takes photos of African American people because she wants to highlight different variations of what a Black person looks like and showcase their soul.  


“With like each person I photograph, I want to showcase who they are,” said Mbow. “And I want to showcase that with whatever theme or idea that I’m trying to take photos of. I want to also highlight who they are as a person. And for me, that’s what’s really important about photography. Like it shows not only what the subject is…you’re showcasing a storyyou’re telling a story to the world.”


Mbow’s photographing process starts by becoming inspired or coming up with a concept and then she mixes it with a story she wants to do. Right now, she’s working on an Emotion magazine project. She gave the example of anger, and said she wants to capture the different layers of what anger shows instead of simply taking a photo of a mad face. 


Mbow then finds the right model that will best showcase her concept. After the photoshoot, she edits the picture.


“Editing is my favorite part of photography,” said Mbow. “So, I think about like, ‘Okay, what am I trying to showcase in this photo? Am I trying to make it more heavy contrast, showcasing more of like a fiery-ness to it…or am I trying to make it look more light and airy? So then I like more of a temperature to it.”


Mbow described herself as somewhat of an introvert-extrovert. She described herself as introverted until someone gets to know her which can be an obstacle when finding people she wants to take photos of. She said another obstacle is that she’s still learning since she started taking photos last August. 


“So I might get an idea or inspiration from something and I’m like, ‘Okay, I know how I’m going to execute this,’ and then I’ll start off by trying to execute it but then it doesn’t work the way I want it to,” said Mbow. “But I can always be like ‘okay, well, this didn’t work. What’s my next step?’…it also teaches me to look at it in multiple point-of-views. So if I’ve never done this aspect of photography before? How, if it doesn’t work the way I want it, what other thing could I do to showcase that same thing that I wanted to do with that photo?”


Mbow said there’s never a limit to what a photographer can do and that it’s important to push yourself and try.


“I feel like you never know what you might come across in terms of your talent,” said Mbow. “I’ve tried different things where, you know, I’m like, ‘Oh, I’ve never done this before, I’m a little scared to try it,’ but once I did it, it was beautiful. It was amazing, and I’m glad I took that risk. So I feel like taking risks in photography and just pushing yourself to go past your limit in terms of your skill is very important.”


See some of Aminatta’s photography here.