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Monday, 09 February 2009


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He is still a black photographer. We still live in a society where part of your identity is still racially based.

Even if a white person's work is identical to a black person's work. Simply because one photographer is black, she will have access to different markets, different pressures from critics than a white person.

1. I am Asian American, simply being so means that any pictures I take will be viewed through the lenses of the Asian American experience. If I took pictures of African American men. The images take another meaning, what is the back story, why did the Asian man decide to take on

2. An African American man taking pictures of naked white women would be criticized by certain people for not being inclusive. A white man taking pictures of nothing but naked pictures of Asian women wouldn't be as criticized.

3. Would a book and movie such as Born Into Brothels have such resonance if a Black photographer took the exact same images?

Only if I'm a blue-eyed photographer... great link here Michael, thanks, he's tagged in my feeds now too!

Yes, perhaps, maybe, and no.

Am I an English photographer even though I now live and work in Australia?

Nice pointer, the book, not just the discussion of labels. 1973 was the first (according to the preface by Toni Morrison) and probably the only issue of this Annual. It has wonderful pictures. They don't appear to be only by black photographers, or show exclusively black people as subjects, but you see a sort of New York School of the 60's and 70's defined here, perhaps more real to the participants than the New York School created to describe the 40s and the 50s.


As far as I know there are three more issues (http://www.carlagirl.net/research/library/bpa.html)

We had almost the same conversation in a seminar a few days ago.. Black photographer? What's the point? You are a photographer or you're not. It's the same as saying a woman photographer or a blond photographer.. Totally pointless UNLESS you're trying to take advantage of an idiom to promote your work. All the above are personal opinions of course.

This gives me a whole new perspective on my favourite magazine, 'Black and White Photography'.

If Robert Frank was Swiss-born and a photographer, was "The Americans" a work of Swiss photography? I suppose it's a great shame that this seminal work wasn't created by someone with an authentically American pedigree, that is, if you care about pedigrees.

Actually, I think that he's a Black and White photographer. (They're the best kind.)

Posted by: Gerry Morgan: "This gives me a whole new perspective on my favourite magazine, 'Black and White Photography'."

Well that gave me a giggle!

We must look forward to the day when it will be rebadged as "Gray Photography".

Amadou's comment is interesting. If I wanted to chronicle drug use, I personally would be photographing the people who are the majority of the drug users I have known: white suburbanites.

Thanks to everyone from TOP who visited Shutterfinger to read my post and extra thanks to those who left such thoughtful comments. It's reassuring to know that we can have a civil and enlightening discussion on such a sensitive topic. There's still no definitive answer to whether black folks who take pictures are "black photographers" but IMO, the more people who question such labels and their unspoken assumptions, the better.

Being a photographer and carrying the title next to your name is something one has to earn. Being labeled the black photographer or the white photographer is nothing more than a stereotypically racist comment. In contrast being internationally known and coming from another culture is of a different story. Labeling someone, (lets say polish) constitutes their place of birth, residency, or pride for their culture as a representation. I do not condone labeling or classifying people, and that goes the same as labeling myself a specific type of a photographer. I have earned my way into the title of being a photographer. As have millions of others. Let their race, creed, or orientation, be left behind the shutter...

You would hope that we as a society would get past the desire/oppression of identity politics. Race, after all, is an artificial construct that really means 'people who, as a result of thousands of years of interrelationships, possess similar physical characteristics.' After all, we're all African by origin. Maybe we're all 'African photographers'... or is that only if we go on photo safaris to Africa?

Labels are funny sometimes. While my wife was looking up information on diabetes on WebMD, she discovered a statement that said "African Americans" are among the groups more susceptible to type 2 diabetes. It made me wonder if people of African descent who are citizens of, say, France, Jamaica, or Ethiopia are at less risk. The label only confuses the issue, both in the case of WebMD, and most others.

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