For Khabeer Sultan, photos are more than an art form: They’re a tool for social change. The 36-year-old Boston resident has launched a photo campaign on his Instagram account @ksultanphoto that aims to tear down stereotypes of black men. Titled “An American Experience,” Sultan’s project has featured more than a dozen subjects from across the Boston area so far.
Q. How did you get the inspiration for this photo project?
A. I watched the documentary “13th,” and it inspired me to create something that directly combated the negative images of African-American and brown men in general. Historically in this country I think black men have been widely mischaracterized as criminals or living in poverty, even though that’s really not true. I really wanted to directly combat that.
Q.What are your hopes for the project going forward?
A. The first thing I want to do is do a personal gallery show, just to have a way of interacting directly with the public. I also want to share my view of the problem and my experiences as well.
Q.How do you find photo subjects?
A. I posted a few things on social media and then I had a lot of people within my network share those posts. People I know reached out to folks who they thought would be a good candidate. That’s really how I got most of my subjects.
Q.What were you looking for in each photo shoot?
A. Just honesty. The main goal of each photo is honesty. I don’t direct too much. When I have initial contact I’ll have them pick the location that speaks to them. They really have control over it. I want it to be less about me and more about them, because they’re the important part. I’m not the subject of [the project].
Q.When do you think you’ll complete the project?
A. When it feels right. I started the project in October and I’ve done about 15 gentlemen so far. I don’t have a specific end date yet.Interview was edited and condensed. Alexander Frandsen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.