Transgender rights have invariably been a controversial issue. Texas in particular has recently seen a record number of anti-trans bills introduced to their legislature. This hostility can form a barrier, keeping transgender people from fully living within our society and it can stop them from thriving. Consequently, visibility and exposure are vital tools to help defend and empower these marginalized people.
As part of their 2022 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion report on Business and Politics, Dallas business publication D CEO recently interviewed three North Texas transgender executives who shared their personal and professional journeys. These businesspeople are proudly and compassionately working within Texas to create visibility and start much-needed conversations.
At a time when transgender and nonbinary Americans are gaining more recognition in the media and among the public (5% of young adults in the United States say their gender is different from their sex assigned at birth), it is particularly important to support and learn from the trans community.
D CEO’s decision to show trans people in powerful positions is a profoundly liberating achievement for the trans community, not just in Texas but worldwide. In turn, for companies to give trans people opportunities and acknowledge them as they are is also an optimistic message.
D CEO entrusted Fort Worth, Texas-based photographer Jill Broussard to create the portraits of the three business leaders. Jill was a perfect fit for the project due to her ability to capture the soul and her curiosity of people.
Part of what I love about my work is getting to be in the room with humans who are celebrating, humans who are fighting, and humans who are open to sharing their journeys with the rest of us. Every single day, I realize the honor of doing my small part to work through the lens of justice and dignity within my portrait work. It’s an opportunity I’m grateful for.
Jill has worked with D CEO for many years, and this confidence in her work and her earned experience meant they could fully trust her with the sensitive nature of the project.
I’ve worked with D CEO for over a decade. I do a lot of portraits, mainly in the business sector, since D CEO is a magazine dedicated to the CEO experience.
As part of the LGBTQIA community herself, this was a poignant assignment for Jill. Her personal identity meant she could bring a truthful level of empathy and awareness to the project.
First and foremost, I bring a ton of experience and expertise to any assignment as a veteran in the photography world. I also am intentional about being easy to communicate with, reachable, and flexible.
The story’s goal was to shine a light on members of the trans community who were actively taking part in the larger business community and how being trans has created opportunities for them to help more people across Texas through their respective lines of work. Jill wanted to fully collaborate with D CEO to ensure this took place in the most respectable manner.
I chatted with D CEO about potential lighting schematics and tearsheets, I learned about the talent and who they were, and we discussed the overall feel they wanted to capture and how we’d like this shoot to pan out.
The shoot took place in a small, intimate studio in Dallas. It was integral to create a relaxing atmosphere for the subject. Making a space comfortable for the subjects allowed them to open themselves up to the experience and bring in the emotion needed for the images to pop.
I had my lighting tech and the art director on set with me for the whole shoot. The art director (Hamilton Hedrick) we work with on these projects is very easygoing and great to work with. He primarily lets me run the shoot and is very open to letting me present my ideas about lighting, and we collaborate well on what the best looks and moments are during the shoots.
It was a noteworthy honor for Jill to be selected to make portraits of these subjects. She fully understood the gravity of the task at hand and brought respect and understanding to the shoot.
It was a privilege to create relationships with these subjects and learn about their experiences. It’s always a tremendously exciting and uplifting for me to see folks who have been traditionally marginalized creating their own magic and being visible in a way that makes our community better, and it’s a point of pride to me to be trusted to give them a great experience.
On the day of the shoot, Jill encountered some technical challenges and had to use all her experience as a photographer to overcome them in the most efficient way.
We were battling the sun coming in from a window all day, so we had to scramble for a fan to keep our talent from overheating, and the color tone began to skew warm as the sun got brighter, so we had to monitor color balance and work to keep ambient light off of the set.
The bold lighting used by Jill on the shoot empowered an elegant and meaningful tone to communicate the power of the Trans leaders, furthered by the dramatic black background. The consequential images are compositions full of life, dignity, and courage, like the trans leaders themselves.
I fell in love with the monochromatic look of one of our subjects– she has very dark skin, and we placed her on a black background in a black dress. It was a striking image that made the cover, and I couldn’t be prouder.
One of the best moments was when we were photographing one of the subjects, and the temperature was beginning to rise, and our talent was beginning to perspire just a bit. Their partner, who just happens to be a pinup model, strode in with a huge personality, wearing a big gorgeous green dress, and cajoled their partner and distracted them just enough for us to get the fan in place and take the temperature down enough to get the shot. It was a bit of serendipity for us, and they made quite an elegant pair, which was fun to see. We never have partners on set, so this was quite a treat to meet them both, as this was their first photography shoot.
See more of Jill’s work on her website.