Common Denominators

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 early 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. I call my works "Common Denominators." 

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 early images were made. In this pre-social media era, 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, social networking. And, street photographers ruled…..  

To say that automobile culture rules in 21st century Los Angeles is an understatement. The predominance of cars in LA undermined the city's public transportation system years ago and forced me to explore new methods of capturing images in my newly adopted home environment. As an analog guy trapped in an unforgiving digital age, my Los Angeles images reflect my new infatuation with both color and smart phone camera technology. Thus, my most recent pics were taken with an iPhone attached to a selfie stick and shot primarily from my moving car while riding around the city.  These black & white and color images reflect the more contemporary lifestyles of everyday people as well as that rapidly increasing population of homeless individuals seen on streets and sidewalks all over Los Angeles.

 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/riding 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.