Gordon Parks

I have discovered Gordon Parks when looking for photographers who photograph the unseen and what an inspiration Parks is to me.

He spent much of his taken tackling the poor and the racial issues that have blighted the United States of America in the 50s and 60s. Looking at some of the work I’m not sure how much progress has been made, given the current plight of the African-American populationand the Black Lives Matter campaign.

The website,  The Gordon Parks Foundation (2014) The Gordon Parks Foundation, Available at: http://www.gordonparksfoundation.org/artist (Accessed: 25/04/2017). is an invaluable guide to his life and work and shows how he used his untrained eye to great benefit.

He photographed mainly in black and white, with some colour images in his work. The majority of his images have been cropped square, adding some tension where needed.

One of my favourite images from his work is taken from the series of the “Invisible man” and is entitled “Emerging Man, Harlem, New York, 1952”. I don’t know the story behind this image, as to whether it is a staged image, as some of his work was, but it makes you think about what the man is doing, why he is where he is, how did he get there and what was the purpose of his emergence?

He was also responsible for photographing large parts of the civil rights movement in the States and captured some great images of the famous boxer Muhammad Ali, both fighting and relaxing.

Parks gives voices to the unheard and images of the unseen, as demonsrtated  in his series on the Fontenelle family, whose every day struggles are captured with a sensibility of someone who can understand their plight.

 

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Image taken from The Gordon Parks Foundation (2014) The Gordon Parks Foundation, Available at: http://www.gordonparksfoundation.org/artist (Accessed: 25/04/2017).

I particularly like the lighting capturing his eyes (on the image above) and the symmetry of the shot, including some sort of lighting on the sides of the image, acting like a another set of eyes, observing this apparently strange behaviour. Why was Parks there, in the middle of the road, and what had he observed, or is it a statement of this “coloured” man rising from the ground and our of the ashes? You are left with more questions than answers regarding this emergence. May be this is not Parks’ best image, but I love how it makes me think about the emergence from below!

Long may such work, uncovering needless injustices be made. May the unseen become noticed and the unheard find their voice. I will explore this as I progress through the unit.

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KayLyn Deveney

The day-to-day life of Albert Hastings

This is a very interesting concept of two different people working together. The photographer making the images, with the subject adding the captions assisting the narrative. KayLyn develops an extremely close working relationship with her subject, Bert and the concept developed over time, into an interesting and unusual project.

I love the idea of working with someone who is elderly and has great experiences to share with a younger generation. This co-operative way of working has added a further dimension to the images.

The poignancy of the hand written captions, really add to the feeling in the images and give this a sense of moment and genuine realism. The have a decisive moment element to them.

As KayLyn says these are everyday moments, but the handwritten additions take them beyond the everyday ordinary and bring the images to life. They add personality and a warmth that may be otherwise missing.

Would I employ such a tactic? Possibly not, I may not be brave enough but it is a great idea and one that can be worked on, in a different way by keeping notes. From 2nd May I will now keep my own note book as a semi-diary idea book.

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Image taken from Deveney, K (Not known) The Day-to-Day Life of Albert Hastings, Available at: https://kaylynndeveney.com/the-day-to-day-life-of-albert-hastings/ (Accessed: 28/04/2017).

The above image is my favourite image from the selection. The warm colours of the image blend well with the thought of Bert having a whiskey and really enjoying it. The lighting is soft, with the shadowing adding the soul of this snapshot.

The decorations and the lampshade place Bert as an elder man, may be who does not have much money to spare, but one who has a big heart and plenty of love to share. The image is polaroidesque in its’ squareness adding an edge of nostalgia. Unusually for a square image I do not feel this adds any tension, may be because Bert is centrally placed, making it vaguely symmetrical