Deana Lawson’s Hyper-Staged Portraits of Black Love

Written by Doreen St. Felix 

Blood Orange’s album “Freetown Sound,” from 2016, is about the drama of returning home. For the artist Dev Hynes, who grew up in East London, this does not mean striving to be an authority on his father’s Sierra Leone but, instead, tracing the tentative shape of the mother nation in his consciousness. His is an eager, first-generation love, the insatiable kind that is based in estrangement. According to the photographer Deana Lawson, when Hynes came to visit her studio several years ago, the musician told her that the album had also been inspired by a photograph she had taken in 2009. She let him use it for the album cover.