Photographer Julius Frazer's familiar and familial faces
This story originally appears in Justsmile Issue 2, Together in the Fold.
Photography Julius Frazer
Styling Ian McRae
Text Erin McFadyen
This new series of portraits by Julius Frazer declares the joy, the exuberance and the softness of the friendships and familial relationships which have grounded his photographic practice. Some subjects are fellow photographers, some old friends. There is his mother – whom he calls ‘my best friend and my rock’ – and his brother, whom he calls his first muse. There is Wendell, whom Frazer met, aged twenty, in the basement of a clothing store, when they were both working there in 2013. New Jersey born, Frazer captures a sense of timelessness about New York; there are no watches, no phones marking his personal geography of the city. Instead, the streets, rooftops and apartments become porous fields, across which the people he cares about come together in their multitude.
Nigerian-born Taofeek Abijako is a multidisciplinary artist. In 2018. He presented his SS ’19 collection for Head of State at NYFW: Men’s, making him the youngest designer to show at the event. Frazer says that ‘collaborations between us tends to be super creative, all while staying completely unpretentious.’
Guarionex is an artist whose practice is centered on connecting with communities, to foster the best understanding. He met Frazer at a Mexican bodega. As Frazer says, ‘This is the man. He’s always motivating you to make. If you go out dancing with him, you’re going to have the night of your life.’
Aijani is a photographer peer of Frazer’s. Having known each other’s work for a long time, it took a while for them to meet in person: ‘We had so many mutual friends, it was bizarre. He’s such a great guy,’ says Frazer.
Emily is a photographer. To Frazer, she’s ‘technically someone I work for, but has become a really close friend, someone who pushes me to make stuff and always looks out for me.’
Sharifa is a stylist and Art Director at her creative studio Nuff Studio. Frazer describes her as ‘an icon.’
Fallou and Frazer met ‘at sixteen or seventeen, at the skatepark. We were shithead teenagers. He makes a lot of video work and is an amazing skateboarder.’
Marquale is an artist who ‘sometimes feel[s] like a sixteen year old girl, and sometime[s] feel[s] like an auntie.’ Marquale and Frazer met on the photography scene in New York: ‘He’s an artist in the truest sense.’
‘A lot of my work,’ says Frazer, ‘surrounds masculinity; being Black and being a man. My brother’s the first person I ever photographed. I guess he’s like a muse in that way.’
Here, Frazer’s mom stands in the back yard of the home he was raised in. ‘I watched that woman have two jobs and raise two boys,’ says Frazer. ‘She’s my best friend, my rock.’
Imondre Johnson & Wendell Cole
Dre (left) met Frazer working at Milk Studios in New York. ‘She’s been such a great friend, I just think she’s amazing.’ Wendell (right) and Frazer ‘met in the basement of a retail store, folding t-shirts, and plotted to get out of there.’
A fellow Jersey City-born photographer, Nuvany is ‘the future,’ says Frazer: ‘She’s already doing such great things, at nineteen.’ Her community is made up of ‘Black people, women, artists, my friends, my family, people who LOVE people.’
Alonso Esteban Ayala
Alonso is a videographer, model, and photo assistant, for whom community has to function in all conditions: ‘work, play, struggling times and prosperous.’ He and Frazer met skateboarding: ‘He’s the life of the party.’
Courtney Sofiah Yates
Courtney is a photographer and film director living and working in New York City. Her work attempts to understand sentimentality and the communication of meaning amongst families and individuals. ‘The way she photographs women is beautiful,’ Frazer says.