[tags: Grant Wood Gordon Parks]

All photographs by Gordon Parks. Courtesy and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation.

Gordon was a famed photographer who took photographs of different American lives, whether it be the rich, poor, homeless, laborers, countrymen, or city folk.

On November 1, 1948, Life magazine published the photo essay “Harlem Gang Leader,” introducing their readers to the photography of Gordon Parks and to his subject, the seventeen-year-old Leonard (Red) Jackson, leader of the Harlem gang the Midtowners. “Gordon Parks: The Making of an Argument,” a recently released book and concurrent exhibition presented by The Gordon Parks Foundation and the New Orleans Museum of Art, is a critical examination of this assignment, after which Parks became Lifes first African-American staff photographer.

Born in Scotland in 1966, Gordon Ramsay left behind an early athletic career to become a renowned chef in London. By the early 2000s he was making his mark on British TV as the temperamental host of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares and Hell’s Kitchen, shows that made a successful transition to American audiences. The award-winning chef has since expanded his celebrity brand via such programs as MasterChef and Hotel Hell and opening more restaurants around the globe.

[tags: History Rosa Parks Racism Essays]

Considered one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, Gordon Parks was a self-taught photographer, filmmaker, writer, and composer. He is best known for chronicling the African American experience in powerful, poetic photographs. Parks worked for the Farm Security Administration and the Office of War Information before becoming the first black staff photographer at Life magazine. He was the first black auteur to release a major Hollywood film, The Learning Tree (1969), and he later made Shaft (1971) and Shaft’s Big Score! (1972), films that defined the blaxploitation genre. Parks also cofounded Essence magazine. In his photographs, Parks captured both the rich and famous and marginalized communities, especially his own. “I saw that the camera could be a weapon against . . . all sorts of social wrongs,” he said. “I knew at that point I had to have a camera.”

[tags: George Gordon Byron Essays Biography]

For his project on the Fontenelles, Parks' methods were different, as his images and their accompanying text reveal. In Voices, he explains that he happened upon the Fontenelles, befriended them and came to know them as individuals and as a family before he began documenting them. Parks’ documentary methods involved getting to know his subjects and listen to their words before placing a camera’s lens between them. Moreover, he treated his camera less as a tool to create artifice and more as a tool to capture reality. For his documenting of the Fontenelles, he shot scenes as they were rather than as he created them. His approach bridged a distance, both conceptually and literally, between the photographed subject and the photographer, between the photograph and the viewer. His photographic approach, coupled with his revealing essay, brought the Fontenelles and individuals like them to life, thereby enabling an effective social critique.

‘Gordon Parks: Segregation Story

[tags: Biography Biographies Rosa Parks Essays]

Gordon Parks was one of the most well-known photographers of the 20th century. He originally became famous for his work as a photographer for the government’s Farm Security Administration under the New Deal. His work documenting the social structure and racial inequalities of the South garnered him much attention and acclaim.

[tags: Biography Biographies Rosa Parks Essays]

In the summer of 1947, editors from the short-lived magazine ’47, known since its shuttering in 1948 as The Magazine of the Year, contacted Ralph Ellison—then in the thick of his seven-year labor to complete “Invisible Man”—with an idea for a photo essay on the Lafargue Psychiatric Clinic in Harlem. Established a year earlier with help from Richard Wright, the clinic had become famous for its stance against segregation, not only in the clientele it served but also, perhaps more remarkably, in its all-volunteer staff. Ellison was excited by the prospect, and, after enlisting the photographer Gordon Parks—an acquaintance from Harlem artistic and intellectual circles—he accepted the assignment, though the magazine would go out of business before the photo essay could be published.

Explore Hemingway Design's board "Gordon Parks' 1950s Photo Essay On Civil Rights-Era America Is As Relevant As Ever" on Pinterest

Gordon Parks, the black photographer, pianist, poet and filmmaker who took Ellen’s image, was aware of the complex arrangement of power relations involved in photography (particularly documentary photography) when he decided to undertake his 1968 Life photo essay. Earlier in his career, Parks had photographed for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) under Roy Stryker, the head of the Information Division of the FSA in the 1930s. As part of the documentary team that produced such iconic images as Migrant Mother, Parks intended his documentation to be a socially progressive undertaking. His goal was not simply to capture black inner-city destitution; rather, he intended to use the power of photography to stir emotions and bring about justice. But, as he was aware, the objectification inherent in the photographic image could have just the opposite effect. Instead of empowering its subject, the image could divest the subject of his or her subjectivity, thereby placing the subject and his or her image in the powerful hands of a potentially closed-minded viewer. Parks’ editor Genevieve Young suggested a solution to the objectification problem in a letter to Parks before he ventured to Harlem with camera in hand. Young wrote:

Gordon Parks - Songwriter, Photographer, Writer, …

It is both interesting and instructive to note that the images in this 16 page Life spread have been reproduced elsewhere. In Parks’ book Moments without Proper Names, many of the images of the Fontenelles are republished; yet, the images do not carry the same social significance in this book as they do in the Life spread. In Moments Parks does not provide the verbal contextualization so ubiquitous in his life essay. When one views these photographs without words surrounding and explaining them, the viewer is oblivious to the conditions of the Fontenelle family. The viewer leaves the image caring, certainly, but utterly impotent – who are these people, what are their names, why are they crying? These questions go unanswered, and the social critique suffers.

12 best Gordon Parks' 1950s Photo Essay On Civil …

The “Gordon Parks: Segregation Story” exhibit opening this week at the Columbus Museum showcases a collection of 12 photographs taken in 1956 by the Life magazine staff photographer.