“Dark Skin is… is a project aiming to showcase dark skin in Malaysia, showcasing the beauty that melanin exudes.”
On the 17th of July 2019, a duo released a photo project centred around dark-skinned individuals, called “Dark Skin Is…”, which is the first of its kind in Malaysia.
Why should you need to know about this?
Well, this is a strong message where colour is only skin-deep.
We reached out to both of the photographers for more insight on this inspiring project.
Daniel Adams, who’s only at the tender age of 23, learnt photography on his own and decided to pursue his passion further in university. Catherhea, 29, has been taking pictures of everything under the sun ever since she was a kid!
For this project, Daniel explains,
” “Dark Skin Is…” aims to showcase the beauty, power, and diversity among dark-skinned people.“
He further says that beauty ideals in Malaysia remain largely conventional and whitewashed as light-skinned and Caucasian talents are usually top choices for a lot of brands. They said:
“We hope that this project will encourage Malaysians to appreciate the natural beauty in dark skin and also to nurture a deeper sense of self-love in dark-skinned individuals to empower them!”
When asked about their opinions on whitewashing, Cat thinks that colonisation has done a lot of damage to our country.
“There’s an ongoing association of white folks being the standard, the norm. Anything else other than the standard is “too much”, “too ethnic“, “too Asian“, etc.”
After watching Solange Knowles’ music videos in her last album, the idea of empowering dark-skinned individuals lingered on Daniel’s mind. To make it all come to life, he contacted Cat, who specialises in photographing individuals with a darker skin tone and thus the project was born.
Considering the final product, it is almost hard to believe that this entire project – from conceptualising up to the release – took only 4 months to complete!
I mean, look at the aesthetics of their photos.
To find their models, they put out an IG story looking for dark-skinned individuals and they received an overwhelming response!
After the shoot, Cat said the stories told by the Afro-Asian community and their experiences here in Malaysia stayed with her. She said:
Not all of them knew each other prior to the shoot, but when they came together and talked, it turns out they’ve all had very, very similar experiences, from good to bad. And because of that, they’ve found and left pieces of themselves with each other.
Going through each photo, we noticed that everyone’s clothing was styled differently and when asked about it, they said that they were inspired by Malaysian kampung styles, traditional Indian dressing as well as tribal African fabric tying techniques. As the ensemble they photographed was ethnically diverse, they thought that the mix of different styles was the perfect touch.
The beautiful and meaningful concept behind the shoot
Cat, the mistress of colours came up with the idea of using blue instead of the typical black or white.
The reason why they’re wearing blue is because blue is a colour found in nature. It represents water which is something that is essential for our survival and also a force of nature to be reckoned with. They took the pictures in an open area where there’s no water, to signify an absence of something that we need to survive.
Dark-skinned individuals are a part of the backbone of our society and so are fair skinned individuals. Dark-skinned people are just as important, they are a part of Malaysia and shouldn’t be overlooked. We need each other to make sure our society strives forward.
Daniel and Cat hope that this project will be able to give a little more representation to dark-skinned individuals – whether they are abled or disabled, big or small, short or tall. To all Malaysians, they say:
We just want people to see the beauty in people who have more melanin in their skin.
We can expect to see more of Daniel as he has tons of projects lined up which includes a project dedicated to his late mother who passed away from cancer 2 years ago!
Secretive Cat has a few projects kept under wraps but she did reveal to us that one of them will be on plus-sized men. So, I guess we’ll just have to wait for Cat to surprise us!
Check out the wonderful video finale to this project!
View this post on Instagram
Curated by @dreamersrehab & @danieladamsphotography ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Over the past three months, myself and @dreamersrehab have been planning and organising this shoot and FINALLY over the weekend it happened! •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Dark Skin Is……. is a projects aiming to showcase dark skin in Malaysia, showcasing the beauty that melanin exudes. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be releasing images from this project which will lead up to the main video 🙏🏼 ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• ▪️ Styled by @hamidhanizah @afierhm@tj_lemonslices ▪️ Featuring @kana_del_ray@shangkharee @osnapitsdev@yuckyandsmel1y @linda_rao3@jeslindaaa @itsprince7@hamidhanizah @reenoshakrish@eloha_dav @andrea_alyndra@leenellane @_donbernard_@_dingempak @hoganduhslayurz@thayaabaran @11miss_lim11@janetnimundele @iamchideraaa@aphricanaciangal @whatthehik@pricillamark @tj_lemonslices@nafnlauss ▪️ Assisted by @thavinyajazlyn@gautheman @addojo • Music sourced by: @thebeardedcameragod Song: Short by J Rick
That’s truly an amazing trip into the minds of 2 very amazing people! The photos truly exude the power and beauty of melanin. Therefore, I believe that as a nation we should learn to love and tolerate each other more! Dark Skin is… Beautiful!