“Faces, Up Close and Personal!”
Have We People……, as challenged by Curtis Mayfield forgotten the beauty of our blackness?
I’ve listened as a mother called her daughter ugly. “Smile for the camera with your ugly ass,” she said, as I took a quick snapshot of her beautiful daughter at an event recently. I’ve listened to many negative stories about black men and their families or lack of family values; statements about how black women dress too sexy; comments about our youth of color and their lack of compassion and joy and the opinions of others for all black people and our “natural hair style.”
One might think I’m referencing conversations and statements by those whose skin color isn’t black like mine. Na, I’m talking about the words from the many shades of blackness in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I hear far greater assumptions and inferences about people of color from other cultures, but today I’m talking about what Curtis Mayfield signified as “We People…..”
Additionally, I’ve been disheartened by the lack of positive, beautiful images of black beauty I could find online to counter the negative narratives being pushed out through social media. However, while searching for inspiration for a new photography project I came across the following quotes from Gordon Parks, which encouraged me to pick up my weapon my camera with the intention of changing the narrative.
- “You know, the camera is not meant just to show misery. You can show beauty with it; you can do a lot of things. You can show—with a camera you can show things that you like and hate about the universe. It’s capable of doing both… after working so hard at showing the desolation and the poverty, to show something beautiful as well. It’s all there, and you’ve only done half the job if you don’t do that.”
- “The subject matter is so much more important than the photographer. The important people are the people he photographs. They are what make him.”
- “I saw that the camera could be a weapon against poverty, against racism, against all sorts of social wrongs. I knew at that point I had to have a camera.”
Parks words reminded me I have an obligation to my community and to myself to continue the work of the many black photographers whose shoulder I stand on by showing the beautiful complexity of people of color that I interact with as my heart sees them.
Over the last 31 days, I have posted a series of photos (Faces, Up Close and Personal) only on Facebook and Twitter but today November 1, 2015, I am launching its 365-day photo blog. Befittingly called “Faces, Up Close, and Personal.”
With this blog, I am limiting my subject matter to the faces of people of color. I’ve also limited how and what lens I use to photograph the subjects. I’m only shooting in black and white to expose the shades of gray between the two non-colors! Additionally, I plan to incorporate film into the series, as well.
With this blog, I’m not adding any titles or explanation under each photo, in the hopes that you open and allow your heart to explore the photograph and reveal its purpose and meaning for you. At the end of 365 days, I hope that I can look back and show that, I have learned to allow my heart to see the content of the photo, and that the photos have changed the narrative just a little bit. If so, it’s mission accomplished.
I share this final quote by Gordon Parks to guide me through what I believe will be a fun and challenging process.–because of the intimate collaboration with strangers and friends.
“… I feel it’s the heart, not the eye that should determine the content of the photograph. What the eye sees is its own. What the heart can perceive is a very different matter.”
Enjoy the blog, visit often, comment, and share!
Changing the narrative with the click of the shutter!