Finding Your Niche

I never expected to be doing what I do today. For some reason, it never crossed my mind that I could photograph people for a living. I struggled a lot through university. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy my classes, but I truly had the hardest time finding my niche until the last year or two. I knew I loved working with film. Digital was nice, but too sterile for my taste, and I felt that I could never achieve the look I was aiming for. 35mm was a step in the right direction. It provided a bit more of that authenticity I was so desperately craving. And then, there it was… 4x5. The beautiful, slow process that had the best pay off. I was hooked on the level of detail, the huge negatives, the fact that this type of photography had been kept alive for so long.

There is something about 4x5 that brings out the rawest version of the subject. Yes, you can see the texture of their skin, the veins in their eyes, but it was the vulnerability that you can capture in the subject that drew me to it more than anything. A photo friend of mine, Mat, once told me that photography had already been perfected hundreds of years ago, it just got more convenient, and I feel like that couldn’t be more correct.

Political Divide

If you’ve been following the political climate in the United States, then you know we’re going through some tumultuous times. There has been a very visible divide since 2015. Things had seemed to be going in the right direction until we hit a wall. And now, in 2024, we are facing yet another election where the lives and rights of people, once again, are threatened by what could be. Here in Ohio, there has been a push for anti-LGBTQ legislature with many of these proposed bills targeted at trans individuals. They threaten to take away crucial, lifesaving health care for them, and there is a strong attempt to erase the existence of queerness country-wide. There are a lot of questions looming around what our community will look like in the next few years.

The Process

Most of my friends fall under the blanket of LGBTQ+, as well as some of my family. With my Pentax 67 and Crown Graphic, I’ve spent these last few years documenting everyone close to me that is part of the community. The process has never been heavily directed. I want the individual to express themselves however they see fit, no limitations, and for the end result to be affirming. I feel that putting too much direction into a photo can add unnecessary pressure and in return, that discomfort can read in the photo. It was best to keep it casual, and open-ended for the subject. Each portrait is individual, everyone has their own stand-out form of expression.

About a year ago I chose to branch out and open the project up to couples. With these photos, the idea changed from documenting self-expression, to documenting genuine love and intimacy; that being no different from what you see in any other hetero couple. At the end of the day, we are all human.

Persephone Mitchell

Persephone Mitchell

Persephone Mitchell


How does this process and subject matter come together? Film photography is, in my opinion, the most archival, long-lasting method of documentation. There is so much love and thought that goes into each image, and if cared for properly, it will last forever. I view that as a metaphor for what we are seeing today. There is no erasing the existence of this community. They have been around as long as the human species has, and they will still be here no matter what laws are set in place.

I’ve recently opened the project up to everyone in the LGBTQ community - whether it’s individuals, couples, or siblings. I don’t think any specific focus truly represents the queer community as a whole, so why not include everyone? This project is still so fresh and new paths keep popping up as I continue to shoot. I’m excited to see what comes of this collection, and how it develops as the network of people continues to grow, one portrait at a time.

Persephone Mitchell

Images ©Persephone Mitchell