GORDON PARKS: Learn From the Masters of Photography

This image by Gordon Parks is burned into my memory.

My friend Brian Day, who I consider one of the best contemporary monochrome shooters, introduced me to Gordon Parks while I was living in Michigan. I’ve recently been re-introduced to his work randomly, and I’m super inspired.

Why Gordon Parks?

First of all, I think he is probably one of the most under-rated master photographer. And to be frank, most people don’t even know who he is. But they know a lot of his images, especially from the FSA era…I remember seeing the black woman with broom in front of the American Flag as a child in elementary school. The image moved me.

Why I love the work of Gordon Parks

I love the work of Gordon Parks, because of his mix of social justice photography, his masterful compositions, and his skill in shooting color too. I am a huge fan of his fashion photography, to see him integrate circles, arches, and movement.

For his color work, they look like visual colorful brushes, with life and pastel memories. Truly timeless images, that stir the textures in my heart and soul.

I can see the soul of Gordon Parks in his images

Gordon Parks also bares his soul in his photos. I can see his presence in his photos. He ain’t a disconnected photographer from the scene… he is part of the photos. I can see his soul in his photos.

Documenting history

He also did an important job documenting HISTORY. Times with segregation, racism, and injustice. His photos are very important today… with continuing inequality of opportunity in America.

Reminder: Know that the photos you shoot today will be history tomorrow. You haven’t missed a bus.

Therefore, diligently document your own city, or social political economic issues of today. Maybe 50 years from now, a future historian or individuals will find meaningful value in your images. Kind of how my friend Neil Ta is documenting the changing social landscape of Toronto.

Even my friend Brian Day, he’s documenting the change of Detroit, the once Paris of the Midwest. I personally feel connected to Michigan, living in East Lansing with Cindy for about 2 years. I connected with “middle America”, something that I never saw as a self centered Californian.


Don’t put yourself into a box

Gordon Parks also showed me, don’t put yourself in a box. Shoot street photography, documentary, fashion. No boundaries. But we can see Gordon Parks … his photo subject matter is different, but we can feel the HUMANITY in his photos.

Therefore, be more HUMAN as a photographer, and show more HUMANITY in your photos.

Thanks to the Gordon Parks Foundation

I’m still a newbie to his work, but will share more thoughts and images, as I continue to learn.

Credit to Gordon Parks foundation for the images:


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