With Pride month in full force it was only fitting to talk about the talented queer photographer Alia Romagnoli (@a8lia). With her dual heritage background growing up in India and moving to London, Alia takes a lot of influence for her photography from her South Asian background. Her inspirations stem from Indian folklore, beautiful embroidered tapestry, mythology and the 1970's Bollywood scene.
She focuses a lot of her photography on portraiture, tackling controversial topics within the South Asian community. Embracing identity and putting individuality at the foreground, Alia uses photography as expression. Growing up in a censored culture with little exposure to the LGBTQIA+ community, she found it very isolating understanding her narrative. Yet capturing imagery was second nature, it provided an escape and freedom for expression. She found solidarity in capturing the essence of life and it was through photography she was able to connect with others in similar situations.
Moving to London, Alia cherished opportunity for growth. London provided the buzz she had craved and it’s in her second year of Uni where her photography would flourish. She loved India but it discouraged her dreams especially as a queer woman who was highly creative and didn't want a ‘serious’ career in finance or economics. Alia mixed her love for her culture with her love for photography to provide vibrant portraits.
As a young girl, Alia was given a small Kodak point and shoot camera by her Bibi (grandmother). This would become the beginnings of her journey. For Alia photography is about expression, about experimenting with everything and anything because it's in those moments you create the most cultivating imagery.
As a creative Alia understands the value of persistence as creativity is free flowing and that social media is as a billboard for expression it’s necessary to utilise that. Photos provided compassion and a binding of relationships, they connected two worlds and, in that moment, everyone is free. Alia taps in on the importance of photography as a tool for memories and an insight into history.
Present day, Alia focuses a lot of her projects around her culture using topics around queer folk, matriarchal relationships and identity giving a voice and a medium for expression for a lot of South Asians who identify as queer, thus providing an honest story for others in similar situations.
However, Alia still feels there is a lot of change to be made. Especially when it comes to identity and more so with the very male white dominated industry photography lends itself to. With so much saturation it's hard enough to make your presence known. Consider being a female queer south Asian woman who doesn't fit the fashion photography world and you have a blocker. But Alia hopes to create a more diverse and integrated place that will allow every person the opportunity to flourish. As she feels there’s not enough opportunities for diversity and even when there is , behind the scenes is still a very white male dominated area.
We cherish role models like Alia who are creating a pathway for difference in the photography world, as difference speaks to separation, in separation we have two choices. To reject ourselves, or accept ourselves and we all know that accepting ourselves is to honor our self and we all know we need that respect.