Commercial beauty and fashion photographer, Mario Epanya’s enticing and powerful images regularly light up social media and are helping to shape the image of modern African fashion, beauty and style. Based in Paris Epanya’s work focuses on diversity in fashion and portraiture.
Born in Cameroon, Epanya there began his career as a hair and makeup artist, moving to France in 2000 to study and later work as a professional makeup artist. Epanya worked for the likes of Dessange Paris and as a hairdresser for art agencies. Despite forging a successful career in make-up artistry, Epanya felt the tug to do something more , and 2007 switched careers to photography an interest he had had since a childhood. Learning all he could from friends who were professional photographers and also from online tutorials and trial error he soon setup his studio, Studioepanya, and has since worked on campaigns for leading names in the fashion and beauty industry such as L’Oreal and Maybelline.
Having his own studio has enabled Epanya to focus on his purpose that of celebrating black beauty, and addressing the underrepresentation of black models in the industry. His cause was given a major boost when he released a series of fictional Vogue Africa covers featuring black models. The ensuing buzz not only caused widespread recognition of his work, but as he hoped drew attention to the need for greater diversity in the fashion and beauty industries, and sparking debate across the online space as to whether Africa needed a Vogue edition.
Epanya’s proposal to Condé Nast for a Vogue Africa was turned down, but far from being discouraged Epanya created his own digital magazine, Winkler filling its pages with black models and related editorials and products not often seen in mainstream publications. With his now rising, a few years later Epanya held his first photography exhibition, Glamazonia. The exhibition comprised a series of striking black and white images dedicated to black beauty, in which his subjects were depicted a queens each adorned with elaborate hairdos. Glamazonia travelled the world taking in France, Belgium, Brazil, and the USA to name few and was featured in international publications and media.
Celebrating a decade in fashion and beauty photography Mario Epanya continues to be driven by a need to use his work to promote black beauty, fashion and style.
– Tapiwa Matsinde
[Image credits: All the images shown were sourced from Mario Epanya’s portfolio. If downloaded and used elsewhere please credit accordingly]