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All across the globe people recognize the power Black people have when they put their mind towards something. “I get to use this camera and this project as a vehicle to be around a bunch of Black people with purpose on purpose, that’s the best part of this whole process.” said Adam Davis, the head of the Black Magic Portrait Project.
The Black Magic Project’s goal is to build the largest contemporary archive of Black-American portraiture. To achieve this, Davis’s plan is to get 20,000 tintype photos of Black people from around the country. “I’m goofy, I’m an idiot but that’s a very specific goal I’m chasing and I’m just lucky to be able to do it, period,” Davis told The Black Wall Street Times.
A tintype photo is a picture that is on a thin sheet of metal instead of paper. They were first created in the 1850s and were used the most during the 1860s and 1870s. “Pour, silver, load, shoot, develop, wash, fix, wash, dry, that’s the entire process,” Davis said.
“There’s a very distinct result that this medium shows, the end result of these photos is just stunning,” Davis said as to why he only photographs Black people. “The first photograph of a Black person was a slave, when I tell people that I only photograph Black people now I think there’s pride in that, and to assist another Black person in being seen in a way that they’ve never seen themselves before, that has become addicting in a way so I don’t even want to stop.”
Black Magic goes on tour around the U.S.
Davis has traveled across the United States visiting heavily Black cities like Chicago, Cleveland, and Detroit. He’s now in Tulsa.
“Before I decided on what cities to go to, I knew coming here was a requirement,” Davis said. “I had come here for the first time last year… and one of the biggest things I heard when talking to black people here were “People don’t come back” and I think this city is too remarkable, the people here are too phenomenal to not see them again,” Davis told The Black Wall Street Times.
While in Tulsa, the Black Magic Portrait Project’s main goal is to be able to photograph the three known living survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre. “It would be an honor, I think having a documentation of someone who went through something so horrific and made it into such a beautiful life is important to do,” said Davis.
Davis is located at the Greenwood Cultural Center, Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. until June 29. Any and all Black members of the Tulsa community are welcome to go there to get a tintype photo of themselves free of charge. “Every Black person deserves to have a photo of themselves that they are in complete control of that lasts forever for free,” Davis told The Black Wall Street Times. While there, every person that gets a photo will be able to see the entire process which takes about five minutes.
Click here to schedule your free portrait until the end of June.