street photography performance

“It takes a second to look, a long time to see.”     ~Teju Cole  Yesterday I had the pleasure of leading a workshop on street photography at the East Side Institute:  “The Art of Photography: Improve Your Lens.” We … Continue reading

An invitation to meet LaToya Ruby Frazier

I am an independent political activist and community organizer in the community of independent voters, now 45% of Americans. I am the Vice President for National Development with Independent Voting.  Several years ago I founded a book club for independent minded Americans, Politics for the People.  It is an unusual book club in several ways: we have members from all over the U.S.; we meet via conference call and read a wide range of selections and talk about them on the blog.  Best of all, each book club selection culminates with the author joining us on the call for an in-depth conversation.

Our current selection is The Notion Of Family, the gut wrenching, achingly beautiful and evocative photobook by LaToya Ruby Frazier.  I am a passionate lover of the photobook as a way to tell stories, give the viewer a new set of eyes, an entry to a new world or a look at something that is hard to comprehend and this book is among the very best!

I first met LaToya Ruby Frazier when I was taking a class at the International Center for Photography.  My professor, Carrie Schneider brought the class to a group exhibit where LaToya had several pieces in her Braddock, PA series. We spoke briefly, I loved her images for their intimacy and their demand that we own Braddock and see what has happened to the African American community.

When I saw The Notion Of Family, I knew that I wanted to share this book with the Politics for the People membership.  For 12 years, LaToya worked on this project, bringing the camera into her family and hometown of Braddock.  What was once a beacon of hope and a thriving milltown…now is yet another city of economic decline and abandonment of the African American community.  In her images, LaToya not only asks the viewer to see Braddock and the impact of environmental racism, poverty and the lack of health care; she also gives us her family, and the beauty of forbearance and creativity.

It is also the story of LaToya, her mother and grandmother.  Her mother became her collborator in making many of the photographs in the book.  There is a daring honesty in their work together.  And they played, they created together, they told stories.  I fell in love with them, could not wait to turn the page to see where next they would take us. I can’t wait to talk with LaToya on our Dec 6th conference call about how this process changed and impacted on their relationship.

The images below, Momme Silhouettes are among my favorite in the book.  They are a break from the harshness of poverty and the slow abandonment of Braddock…LaToya and her mother create a beautiful play for us, asking questions, showing attitude, grace, longing and all behind the sheet.

Hope you will join me in conversation with LaToya this Sunday at 7 pm EST.  And I hope that you will visit the Politics for the People blog and read what our members have written about the book.

The Notion Of Family by LaToya Ruby Frazier. Pg 129: Momme Silhouettes, 2010

Politics for the People Conference Call

With LaToya Ruby Frazier

Sunday, December 6th at 7 pm EST

 C ALL IN NUMBER

641 715-3605

Code 767775#

Photography Workshop

On Saturday, I taught my annual photography workshop–a playground for making pictures on the streets, sponsored by the East Side Institute.  A group of 15 photographers spent the day together exploring the work of some wonderful photographers, and developing our approach to making photographs.  We took to the streets of Chelsea with our iPhones, Androids and DSLR cameras trying some new things in our picture making process.

Here is a selection of photos created during the workshop. It was an energizing day and exciting to see people play with how they make photos, with slowing down and allowing themselves to see in new ways.  Many thanks to a wonderful group of photographers, you inspire me.

“I didn’t want to tell the tree or weed what it was.  
I wanted it to tell me something and through me express it’s meaning.”          
–Wynn Bullock

 

Photo by June Hirsh

Photo by June Hirsh

 

George Van Pelt

Photo by George Van Pelt

 

Howard Edelbaum

Photo by Howard Edelbaum

 

Photo by David Belmont

Photo by David Belmont

 

Mei Cao

Photo by Mei Cao

 

Yvonne Ru

Photo by Yvonne Ru

 

Photo by Richard Patik

Photo by Richard Patik

 

Photo by Philip Malebranche

Photo by Philip Malebranche

 

Photo by Ramon Pena

Photo by Ramon Pena

 

Photo by Jan Wootten

Photo by Jan Wootten

 

Photo by Arthur Birnbaum

Photo by Arthur Birnbaum

 

Photo by Lauren Rosenberg

Photo by Lauren Rosenberg

 

Photo by John Albert Figueroa

Photo by John Albert Figueroa

 

Photo by Mark Balsam

Photo by Mark Balsam

 

Photo by Susan Massad

Photo by Susan Massad