Botswanan Photographer Celebrates Black Girl Magic In Her Breathtaking Portraits

"I focus on women of color because I feel they don't have enough representation on social media and in media in general."

You'd never know it by looking at her work, but Botswanan photographer Van de aarde started taking photos just three years ago. She used her cellphone's camera to capture clouds, landscapes, architecture, and more. But in 2015, her brother inspired her to pick up a real camera and pursue what has now become her passion. 

"My younger brother, who is also a photographer, had already began learning about photography and it was through him that I developed the love for it," she wrote on her website. "I watched his work and grew more and more interested every day, and on Instagram I began following accounts of quality photographers. Eventually, after spending a few months assisting my brother with his shoots, I decided to join in, and I did my first shoot early May 2015." 

Since then, Van de aarde has developed a lot as an artist. Now, if you scroll through her Instagram feed, you'll see stunning and skillfully captured portraits that celebrate the beauty of women of color. 

"I focus on women of color because I feel they don't have enough representation on social media and in media in general," she told Self. "There was a period where it was difficult for us to see women of color on the internet, and it's [gotten] a lot better ... but I feel it's still going to be a while before things even themselves out and everyone gets a fair, or closer to fair, representation in media."



Van de aarde, which means "of the earth" in Dutch, isn't actually her real name. She prefers to remain anonymous so that her work can speak for itself. 

"I'm trying to be as creative as I can while sharing my ideals: my love for the female form, my belief that women should love themselves and their skin, and their flaws, that the world shouldn't fear or be disgusted by the female body, and that black women are amazing and beautiful," she wrote on her website. 

Some of her portraits show women of color in everyday scenes. Others focus in on the beauty of their so-called "flaws" such as stretch marks, scars, and freckles. And some explore mental health struggles. 

"I suffer from depression and anxiety and a few other things, so I try to communicate some of these things or even try to let others know that they aren't alone," she told Self. "If we shared our problems more ...we would realize that there are so many people on this planet with the same problems, and we would them make some headway in figuring out how to conquer these problems." 

You can check out some of her stunning portraits below.

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(H/T: Self)

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