1. Patience Zalanga @pzalanga

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I first encountered photojournalist Patience Zalanga’s work in the weeks after a Black Lives Matter Protest at the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN that had resulted in criminal charges for 10 of the organizers. Patience —whose work can best be described as more photo-activism than journalism —has been on the frontlines of Black Lives Matter actions and protests, from Minneapolis to Baltimore, to Montgomery, and Ferguson; her camera taking her wherever she is needed. Zalanga’s photos tell the story of a community unapologetically negotiating new terms for its own survival. 

2. Alex Elle @allex_elle

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Alex Elle is a mother, creative artist, yogi, and writer who not only documents her adorable family through the lens, but inspires many through her poems which she regularly posts to her Instagram feed. Her Instagram feed is a reflection on the modern day black family, love, and the in’s and out’s of being a working artist.

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3. Bmike Odums @bmike2c

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Street artist Brandan “Bmike” Odums has been named one of the “New Orleans entertainers to watch in 2015.” In the last year, he has received steady (and due) praise for his work on ExhibitBE; an artistic project that saw Odums and other graffiti artists take over an abandoned five building, five-story apartment complex, turning its blank canvas into provoking art. Odums — who was previously a producer before embarking on graffiti art — documents New Orleans, it’s struggles and it’s forgotten communities and neighborhoods through his Instagram page.

A photo posted by Bmike Odums (@bmike2c) on

A photo posted by Bmike Odums (@bmike2c) on

4. Tia Thompson @t.squares

 

 To get a glimpse of D.C. based Tia Thompson’s best work, you will have to venture off Instagram and onto her website. There you will find Thompson’s raw photography capturing the neighborhoods and people of D.C. Thompson notes, “My portraiture and documentary, here in the District, shows a spectrum of black life and the black experience in one of the blackest cities in the United States.” 

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 5. Dapper Lou @dapperlou

 

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There has been a resurgence of dandy-ism (gentlemen who place importance on physical aesthetics, creating an image of fashioned sophistication) over the last few years, and Dapper Lou aka Lougè Delcy’s Instagram is a tribute to this. And proof that fashion can change the world. Brooklyn Based Delcy — who is of Haitian heritage— combines fashion, travel, and art giving wanderers a peek into the creative black mind. His favorite past time appears to be playing with structural lines and patterns; common features in his images.

A photo posted by Dapper Lou (@dapperlou) on

A photo posted by Dapper Lou (@dapperlou) on

6. Mambu Bayoh @mambub

Mambu Bayoh’s stunning portraits arrest his followers with their frankness. Bayoh—  who is of Sierra Leonean/Liberian descent and resides in the U.S.—- says, “My work is journalistic; I capture life as I know or see it. It is also laboring; it’s born out of love, passion, and inner struggle. I love to capture people. The collective strength of humans is beyond amazing and the determination of an individual is prolific.” 

A photo posted by M A M B U B A Y O H (@mambub) on

A photo posted by M A M B U B A Y O H (@mambub) on

7. Radcliffe Roye @ruddyroye

 

Radcliffe Roye, or Ruddy as he goes by on Instagram describes himself as a “Photographer with a conscience.” The Brooklyn based photographer’s images are both political, and a study in black culture, both on the continental U.S. and in Jamaica, where Roye is originally from. Roye’s recent images from the Grenada Jab Jab festival and NYC’s Afropunk festival show the photographer’s ability to capture the stories behind his subjects no matter where he is.     

8. Leon Bridges @leonbridgesofficial

Through his ascendance, Leon Bridges’ Instagram account has a remained a visual memory box of his artistic essence; a modern day black man paying homage to his roots in dress and sound. His images, often stripped of color, place Bridges and his followers in a time capsule that dates back to the 50’s and leaves you pondering what black identity has meant over the decades.