Celebrating Pride with Daniel Roa

Daniel Roa (B.F.A., photography, 2019) is a nonbinary photographer who is blurring gender norms and burning cookies.

Roa developed the photo series “My Queer Identity” celebrating Queer and nonbinary individuals while studying at SCAD. Each photo — including the cookie-tinged “Josh ii” — is an ode to Roa’s eccentricity, and often draws from their Colombian heritage.

“I want to educate people on what being Queer is and show others that I exist. Gender is a spectrum and I am in it, on it, and around it,” Roa says. “I’m human just like you.”

Roa’s work has been showcased in Vogue Italia, FOTOFILMIC, and FotoFika All-Stars. This has helped them connect with some of fashion’s biggest names, including Steve Klein and David LaChapelle. “I shoot fashion in New York today because of SCAD. The university helped me explore what I like, who I am, and the stories I want to tell.”

Daniel Roa, “Josh ii,” 120 film, 2020.

Daniel Roa:

I applied to SCAD with the goal of becoming a photographer. I loved my initial foundations courses and came to enjoy painting. I took my first film photography class, Camera Exploration and Technique (PHOT 113) with professor Steven Mosch, who helped me see that I was talented and capable and taught me to love film photography.

As a junior, I got to work on a SCADpro project with furniture designer Maria Yee. I had never worked with furniture before, but I knew how to use an image to convey a story. It was an opportunity to test myself and learn a new skill set. At the same time, it helped me define my personal style as a photographer. From there I began focusing on fashion photography.

I began developing “My Queer Identity” series senior year with professor Rebecca Nolan’s guidance. Each photo in the series is a representation of myself. “Josh ii” depicts an individual in their kitchen baking cookies and getting ready for their day. I am obsessed with the color pink. I am also an avid baker, a little chaotic, and slightly messy.

I wanted the image to be simple and accessible to everyone. We can all see ourselves wearing a robe and slippers in an ordinary kitchen. What is more mundane than that? The only thing that is fantasy, for me, is that the cookies aren’t burned. I can’t bake to save my life.

The project helped me get an internship with David LaChapelle and then Steven Klein. As I completed the work, professor Nolan encouraged me to reach out to fellow SCAD grads. Through that process I met my mentor, David Mollé (B.F.A., photography, 2016). His work and guidance has inspired me to continue to stretch myself. I just shot my first ad campaign for Depop with fellow SCAD grad, Angel Emmanuel (B.F.A., fibers, 2016).

As a student, SCAD prepared me for my career. As a professional, SCAD has helped me connect, grow, and thrive. SCAD is a place of love and acceptance that changes and saves lives. For so many of us, the community at SCAD is a family working to make a more beautiful world.

Visit Daniel Roa.

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SCAD prepares talented students for creative professions through engaged teaching and learning in a positively oriented university environment.

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