Life & Business

Why Representation In Branding Matters, by Paige Ricks

by Rebekah Carey

is a San Francisco Bay Area based photographer and stylist who uses color in her imagery to create images that are both striking and have the ability to inspire change. Paige seems to have that incredible ability that many attempt, and few attain — to both capture someone as they distinctly are and also show the subject as they would want the world to see them. With an MFA in photography and a Master’s from UC Berkeley Graduate School Of Journalism, it’s no wonder that Paige has the innate talent to create images that evoke strong narratives.

Not only does Paige manage to photograph the essence of whomever happens to be in front of her lens, she also uses her medium to break stereotypes about people or cultures; to highlight the humanity of her subject. She aims to create images that positively represent a broad spectrum of people and skin colors, when they’re all too frequently missing, stereotyped, or harshly misrepresented. Paige is sharing a photo essay with us today about why representation in branding is so vital, and what she hopes her photography does for the underrepresented and those who misjudge them. Make sure to follow Paige on for more inspiration and to keep up with her latest projects and to broaden the face of branding. —

Photography by

Image above: “Through vibrant portraits I hope images such as mine can change the public discourse of how people view people and cultures,” Paige explains.  

Image above: The photographer herself, resplendent in canary yellow. Photo by . 

Paige: Photography and storytelling have been the visual examples to humanize people and places, but also break stereotypes often of black and brown people, in particular. This very idea is what has made my photographic eye so specific.

I have photographed for various brands, but always focus on photographing models of color in my personal work as well. My photography reveals the commonality of African American identity, and by common, I mean neither sensationalized nor mundane yet authentic.

Although many aspects of the photo shoots are planned, such as wardrobe and location, I encourage the models to take the space and make it their own. 

Diversity and representation are important, not just because the world is diverse, but also because the less inclusive we are, the more walls we build around ourselves, which makes us a society less tolerable and open.

Seeing imagery that mimics our society creates the best and most authentic conversations and bridges the gaps between our differences.

Did the model’s closed eyes make you stop and reflect too?

Were you struck by the model’s innocent expression in contrast to his full-sleeve tattoos?

Through vibrant portraits I hope images such as mine can change the public discourse of how people view people and cultures. It is important for children and young adults to see positive imagery of people who look like them and whom they can relate to. My goal is to capture their individuality; real representation of people in a poignant way.

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  • “Were you struck by the model’s innocent expression in contrast to his full-sleeve tattoos?”

    TBH I initially noticed that he is an impossibly gorgeous person, but the contrast IS nice.

    One thing I did notice: these photos are all beautifully lit. I’ve seen so many photographers who still don’t know how to find the right natural light for dark skin or can’t use gels and studio lights at all and end up making us all look washed out and orangey or dark dark dark, like a cartoon from the 40s. When I was taking film classes in college, my professor struggled mightily to explain how to light my face properly (because he’d rarely had to light anyone but white people). Representation matters, as does educating photographers about lighting ALL of their subjects correctly.

    I’m so happy this photographer has produced such lovely work!

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