TIME First Take

Hank Willis Thomas’ Take on the Purpose of Photography

'First Take' is a weekly video series on the art and craft of photography

In our latest First Take series, TIME speaks with conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas about what makes a great photograph.

“Whoever is holding the frame is actually creating the story,” he says. “What makes a great photographer is their ability to actually find that thing again and again.”

Thomas’s life work focuses on identity, commodity, media, and popular culture. His advertising mockups, which often incorporate recognizable icons into his work from well-known brands, question generalizations developed around race, gender and ethnicity.

Watch this TIME video to hear Thomas talk about his process.

Hank Willis Thomas is a contemporary African-American visual artist, photographer and arts educator interested in race, advertising and popular culture.

First Take is an ongoing video series curated by TIME’s photography editors. See the previous videos here.

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