Common Denominators

 

These photographs, which I call Common Denominators, reflect a world -- primarily in New York City -- as I experienced it during the late 1960s through the mid-1980s.  In that sense, my photos are period pieces and, although they reflect a bygone era unfamiliar to many younger viewers, I hope they will convey an honesty and straightforwardness that transcends any generational divide. 

 

While we all are accustomed to seeing the world in color, I grew up seeing movies that were mostly black and white. These largely monochromatic black and white images are what influenced my personal aesthetic choice once I first picked up a camera. Through my photos I have tried to tell simple stories using the black, white and grey backdrop of New York City, which always fed my creative spirit. Prior to moving to Los Angeles in 2011, I lived in Panama, Central America, for six years. Ablaze with color, these two environments have re-trained my eyes to experience new visual sensations, and while black & white imagery is still my preference, I've begun to incorporate more color shots into my portfolio.

 

New York City during the 1960s - 1980s was still mostly a working class town with most of its citizens struggling through severe economic and social challenges along with the rest of the country. Daily life for New Yorkers has always played out on the city's streets, in its parks, and on its ubiquitous public transit system. It is in these venues where most of my images were made. In the pre-social media era of my photos, privacy was not dead, children still played unsupervised on the streets and sidewalks, our every move wasn't scrutinized by CCTV or government cameras, people still used rotary telephone phones, and personal relationships were mostly exercised face-to-face, absent today's desensitizing, impersonal, smart phone technology. And, street photographers ruled…..

 

I am an untrained, self-taught photographer and my photos are neither exotic nor abstract. I visualize a potential image in my mind's eye, focus on the subject, and click the shutter. This method of vibration photography is just internal to my nature.  If my work has a style, it is simply what I call straight-ahead, walking around street shooting, using available light. I basically, attempt to capture -- without embellishment or visual artifice -- the overt social aspects of a particular environment or place, the people in it, and how they have shaped or left it. 

 

I don't want my work to seem fatuous, trivial, or derivative. I have always inherently been drawn to the ironic, expressive side of urban life, particularly as experienced by African Americans. Thus, while my subjects are primarily, though not exclusively, African American, they reflect a broader slice of the realism and wit of everyday human experience, ie, Common Denominators. I want each of my images to tell a story which evokes an emotional reaction or opinion, and leaves a lasting impression on the viewer.