500px is committed to providing photographers with opportunities to participate in evolving trends within commercial advertising. We not only want to provide an authentic look at global experiences, but redefine representation and drive inclusivity within commercial photography.
To do this, we launched the 500px Commercial Grants program to help develop content representative of evolving trends around the world. June is Pride month, and this year, as part of the 500px Commercial Grants program, we teamed up with diverse creators from around the globe to broaden the representation of LGBTQ+ people within commercial advertising.
Breaking the Mold focuses on sharing the authentic stories of LGBTQ+ individuals, admiring their courage in facing adversity and living their truths, supporting other members of their community, and working together to build a more authentic and inclusive presence within the media.
The five photographers below each received Commercial Grants of $1,000 US.
Nicolas Fuentes, Santiago, Chile
“Today, homophobia is still ever present, to combat this we celebrate gay pride; Pride inspires us to remember those who fought for LGBTQ+ rights. This is something I think about while shooting, and I hope my photos can help those who are still fighting today, even in a small way, help them coming out of the closet to their family, their community, or simply to themselves.”
Chu Tran Minh Duc, Saigon, Viet Nam
“In almost every Southeast Asian country, we don’t have the opportunity to choose what we want to become. For LGBTQ+ people, we cannot fall in love with who we want because of social prejudice. My goal with Breaking the Mold was to catch the moments that tell genuine love stories, to capture happiness, sadness, regret, and hope, to promote the belief that everything is changing day by day. Inspired by film and cinema, I approach my work as a way to frame mood, colors, context, and even eye contact. I really love using a vintage aesthetic that feels really natural.”
Toti Suárez, Gran Canaria, Spain
“I live on the island of Gran Canaria, and I’m thankful that LGBTQ + couples here are accepted as normal. I wish it would be like this throughout the world, because we have been fighting for acceptance for many years, but unfortunately there is still a long way to go. With my photos I was able to capture the natural lifestyle and joyous moments of couples. It was important to me to show that we are people with our own day to day lives, our own careers, joys and sorrows, and our own families. While it’s not fair that we can’t all be free to live as we wish, hopefully one day things will change and we can be seen simply as people, people with the right to live and to love.
Viktor Makhnov, Kharkiv, Ukraine
“Working with members of the LGBTQ+ community for this Grant, I wanted to challenge homophobic perceptions, to let people get acquainted with us at least a little bit, to let them know us better, to see how fragile and vulnerable we can be, how human we are, and understand, eventually, that there is nothing to be afraid of. We are the same people as you, with our love, affection, problems, joys, sorrows, and emotions.”
Kaitlyn Sawyer, Henry, Tennessee, United States of America
“As someone who is part of the LGBTQ+ community, representation is more than just rainbows and pride flags, it’s the genuine connection that proves just how true that love is, regardless of societal “norms” and the expectations of others. For so long, many of us have hidden in the closet in fear of the world shutting us out. Breaking the Mold inspired me to show the raw emotions of my models and show how their journey has affected them. Whether one of happiness or disappointment, everyone’s story is unique.”
The 500px Commercial Grant: Breaking the Mold is part of the 500px Commercial Grants program, which has awarded over $30,000 US to photographers worldwide. You can learn more about 500px Commercial Grants and how you can contribute to diversifying representation here.
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