Upfront with D’angelo Thompson: An Interview with Elizabeth Young
Elizabeth Young was born in San Francisco. A graduate of the Art Center College of Design, she lived and worked in New York City for almost twenty years. Elizabeth currently divides her time between Paris and New York City. Her work has been published in a range of publications from Apollo and i-D to InStyle and Vanity Fair. Her advertising, beauty, and fashion clients include Avon, Bank of America, Inhabit, Johnson and Johnson, Revlon, Shiseido, Ulla Jonson, T-Mobile, and Zoe Lee.
Elizabeth’s work has been published in Nerve: The First Ten Years (Chronicle Books), Unforgettable Color: Revlon Make Up with Confidence (Carlton Books), and Women by Women: Female Erotic Photography (Prestel). Her work has been exhibited in New York City as well as Belgium and Italy. Elizabeth is also the co-founder of the Bureau of Found Objects, an online shop specializing in fashion-related books and vintage clothes.
Note: All pictures supplied by Subject.
DT: Elizabeth, thanks for taking my call today all the way from the 19th arrondissement in Paris. I love that we are listening to your neighbors’ drum circle that honors the French healthcare workers every night at 8 pm. And there’s a DJ who just started playing Donna Summer’s “Love to Love You Baby.” So wonderful that everyone is expressing their creativity during this time in history!
EY: We originally met in San Francisco, California, in the late 90s, when we were doing model tests for our portfolios. Then you moved to NYC, and we reconnected once I moved back there in the early 2000s. From there, we started working together on editorials, lookbooks, portraits, and more.
DT: Has photography always been your first love? When did you get your first professional camera?
EY: Yes, photography has always been my first love. I was in high school when I decided that I wanted to help shape the way we see the world. I got my first professional cameras as a student at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. We were required to have each type of camera format. I started with a Nikon 35mm, Hasselblad (medium format), and Sinar 4×5 view camera.
DT: I’ve known you for over 20 years, and you’ve always had a great sense of style. Name three of your favorite designers and why?
EY: Rick Owens, Martin Margiela, and Helmut Lang because they have/had their own singular vision. I love people who reshape the status quo.
DT: How important is buying ethically made clothing as opposed to fast fashion?
EY: Supporting ethically made clothing is super important to me. I prefer to buy sustainably sourced/made clothing that gives everyone a fair wage at each step of the supply chain.
DT: You have been living in Paris for the past six years…what has this journey been like for you?
EY: It has been intense. After living in NYC for almost 20 years, I wanted and needed a new challenge. Manifesting my dream has been a wild ride, but ultimately it’s been a worthwhile and rewarding one.
DT: What great wisdom would you impart to your 10-year-old self? And to aspiring photographers?
EY: I would tell my younger self to always believe in yourself regardless of others and outside pressures. You are strong, talented, resourceful, and resilient. It might not be easy, but you will land on your feet, and you will survive and thrive.
As for aspiring photographers, I would say develop and follow your own vision. Be open to constructive criticism and advice but always be sure to have your own unique point of view.
DT: What drives your activism as an artist, woman, and person of color?
EY: I want to do my part to make the world a better place. It can be exhausting, stressful, and uncomfortable, for sure. But I think everyone needs to stand up and do their part. Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. (Thanks, Obama!)
DT: Finish this sentence: The shift I would like to see in the world is…
EY: “people finding compassion and empathy for each other and voting blue no matter who, up and down the ballot, in November.”
DT: Any current photo projects you are excited about?
EY: I would love to do portraits of the drummers in my neighborhood’s drum circle. They lift our spirits every night and are one of the best things to come out of this quarantine.
Name: Elizabeth Young
Job Title: Photographer
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