Photos of musical duo April + VISTA look as if they’re set in a dream. Their faces are obscured or backlit, with eyes drawn beyond the frame of the picture, arrested in private contemplation. It perfectly matches their music, which is a lush and mysterious collage of skittering hip-hop beats and swooning vocals.
Daniel Diasgranados, a senior in the Photography + Film program, took these photos over the course of a year for the duo’s album You Are Here. It’s the work that he’s most proud of, a thoughtful distillation of another artist’s world. It’s a reflection of both the duo’s personality and his own, in how it casts young artists of color in a new light.
“I pride myself in both expanding the narrative language of how people of color can look and see themselves,” says Diasgranados, “and truly desire to bridge gaps between those who don’t have access to high-production studios.”
Diasgranados got his start making mixtape covers for local rappers in the DMV (the metro area that encompasses Washington, D.C., Maryland and northern Virginia). After a year of studying communications at the University of Tampa, he transferred to VCUarts to devote himself to his passion for photography and narrative work. Over the years, he’s worked with the label NON Worldwide—which is run by musician, artist and VCUarts graphic design graduate student Chino Amobi—handled visual production for electronic artist P Morris and rap group Theyhatechange, and worked on a scrapped project for Drake’s OVO Records.
“Many of the commissioned productions I work on aim to expand this narrative [language] by deep research of photo history, music history and art history,” says Diasgranados. “I wouldn’t have truly been able to realize what is possible without meeting students and alumni like Travis Brothers and Chino Amobi. Both of them inspire me every day, and VCUarts has given me that chance to understand myself within a larger cultural and photo narrative.”
In addition to his work with recording artists, Diasgranados has also secured commissioned projects from Bloomberg and Wall Street Journal. But as a photographer of color, he finds it most important to explore and expand the stories that he can share through his work.
“I don’t have immediate plans after I graduate, but I’m very excited. I’m doing the things I told myself I would do four years ago,” he says. “I feel more privileged than anything, being a first-generation college graduate and the first in the family to pursue anything creative in any capacity. It holds a ton of cultural weight on my end.”