Renell Medrano, the photographer behind Kendrick Lamar’s Cover Album.


The subjects photographed by Rendell Medrano feel free to choose the story they want to tell; they appear real wherever they are and in whatever they are wearing. Even when constructed, sets express a deep, lived intimacy.

Vulnerable, free, real: the subjects shot by Renell express states of mind through images.

Born and raised in the Bronx, photographer and filmmaker Renell Medrano has been photographing NY residents since she was 14 years old.

Now in her 30s, she has worked with global brands such as Prada, Gucci, Dior, Tiffany & Co., LV, immortalized international artists, actors and athletes, published in publications such as Vogue, Times, Interview Mag for which she has produced extraordinary photo editorials.

Serena and Venus Williams – 2021

Renell – @renellaice – photographs feelings, rather than images.

Her visual storytelling speaks of multicultural communities, in which she grew up, her Dominican roots, vulnerability and spontaneity.

The subjects photographed feel free to choose the story to be told, appearing real wherever they are and in whatever they are wearing; even when constructed, the sets express a deep, lived intimacy.

The Bronx seen from her perspective has a different, romanticized light; she likes to capture mainly the enclosed environments of NY homes, almost as if to convey the smell of them.

Medrano has worked with many music greats, such as Jay-Z, Solange, Playboy Carti, A$AP Ferg, and Tyler The Creator. One of his works has recently gone viral: we are talking about the cover of Kendrick Lamar‘s latest album “Mr. Mr Morale & The Big Steppers.”

The shot features the Compton rapper from behind while wearing the rumored Tiffany & Co. crown of thorns and holding the oldest of his children; in the background, sitting on the bed, appears girlfriend Whitney Alford intent on breastfeeding the couple’s youngest child.

An intimate portrait of the Lamar family, in a bare and humble setting, where the crown of “thorns,” covered with more than 8,000 diamonds, resting on the Rapper’s head, emerges, decontextualized for opulence and luxury.

One of the most powerful symbols in Christian iconography, the crown of thorns is a metaphor for humility and perseverance; for Kendrick, it is a sign of respect for the artists who have gone before him, which in the context of the photo’s homely setting, symbolizes in a mystical key the philosophy of the ghetto.

Renall was able to capture the deep feeling that drove Lamar to want this shot: the scene is so real that it looks like a photo taken during a photojournalism shoot, in some L.A. ghetto home.



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