“Carnival Lily” by Francis A Willey

I believe that everyone should have the right to express personal identity. I touch upon gender roles, a persona of anima, rights, and freedoms to express and build confidence, change stereotypes, and build transformative feelings in the viewer. Each portrait is a deep dive into the psyche and soul of two I am capturing in front of the lens. To find the proper balance between the ego and Identity. To share a wider breath into humanity, building a deeper compassionate culture with the photographic arts.

On the other side of my lens is many multifaceted thinkers and or creators, and through collaboration I work to elevate that expression of the individuals voice, into a wider scope for the viewer. To have the audience want to unravel the mysteries of the character and the confidences of the creator as the subject, intertwine in time.The photographer sharing a semblance of feeling within the respect of a safer space, that all art should be created in, safe spaces. A space that has no fear, that is a resolute eden of sorts, Artist to artist, or poet to photographer or singer to the light.

As a child, I saw the’ freak shows’ when the circus came through, as they called it back in the day. The Largest Man on Earth, The Snake Girl, The Sword Swallower, The Tortured King, Mr. Lifto, and The Dolphin Girl, to name a few. As a boy of 12 years old, I was fascinated by these performers that came through my city. These shows were banned shortly after.

My photographic passions grew, over the next few years, finding my own identity and voice as an artist. I would have incredible people reach out to me, for a timeless portrait on film. Honoured by the immense talent and depth of each character’s passion and expression, led me along many pathways. From drag queens to drag kings, writers, aerialists and clowns, to jazz singers cut from the fabric of another time. Every artist has in part in their purpose, to inspire and lend soft confidences to the courage in creativity. When the photographic print is in the book in the library and the young aspiring artist turns the page and sees something that sparks an original idea in their mind, then they have an uncontrollable need to find a camera. The words within, translated into onto the frame through the aperture, the eye.

Model: Ra/Sol(Carnival Lily) is a mixed afro-diné, 2 spirit, multi-faceted artist, DJ, paradigm shifter. A journalist/researcher, dancer and choreographer and rhythmic gymnast.

What do you think are the TWO most impactful features that make your image a good photograph? Don’t be shy!

Be mindful of art history and always share a deep respect for the individual being photographed. Build a deeper compassion culture in the arts with the tribute of sprit in the light and shadow.

If you could make this photo again, what would be the ONE thing you would like to do better or different?


Francis A. Willey shared this photograph in the FRAMES Facebook Group.


Francis A. Willey, Calgary, Alberta, Canada


Equipment and settings

Olympus OM1
Ilford HP5 plus 35mm film
Continuous lighting, vintage lighting equipment, 1980’s
Linen backdrop

Every year we release four quarterly printed editions of FRAMES Magazine. Each issue contains 112 pages printed on the highest quality 140g uncoated paper. You receive the magazine delivered straight to your doorstep. We feature both established and emerging photographers of different genres. We pay very close attention to new, visually striking, thought-provoking imagery, while respecting the long-lasting tradition of photography in its purest incarnation. Learn more >>>

Comments (1):

  1. David Kyle

    November 5, 2023 at 15:47

    You have captured this person’s attitude very well. I’m assuming they are strong, individual and compassionate.


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