A True Inspiration: Gordon Parks (November 30, 1912 – March 7, 2006)

I suffered evils, but without allowing them to rob me of the freedom to expand.
-Gordon Parks-

Thelonious Monk – Round Midnight
(good browsing music for this post)

Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks (November 30, 1912 – March 7, 2006) was a groundbreaking American photographer, musician, poet, novelist, journalist, activist and film director. He is best remembered for his photo essays for Life magazine and as the director of the 1971 film Shaft.
For further biography info

For me personally Gordon Parks was a visionary with a keen detail for human emotion.His photography illuminates the human condition whether it be beauty,struggle,happiness,poverty,helplessness,etc.Despite the conditions where the photographs were taken what I love about Parks is their is always a glitter of hope woven into them.Gordon Parks simplistic yet involved black and white shots are a inspiration to me to the point where I ponder them for hours trying to get the courage to pick up a camera myself.I know I could never capture the beauty in his work but just like one of his subjects in his photographs I’d like to at least keep the hope and try with a smile.Long story short he will always be a model of excellence to me and his spirit will live on for generations to come.R.I.P.(Rest In Power)

Below I posted a few photos and writings that Gordon Parks did as well as a few things inspired by him.

The Funeral
By Gordon Parks
After many snows I was home again.
Time had whittled down to mere hills the great mountains
of my childhood.
Raging rivers I once swam trickled now like gentle streams
and the wide road curving on to China or Kansas City
or perhaps Calcutta
had withered to a crooked path of dust
ending abruptly at the county burial ground.
Only the giant that was my father remained the same.
A hundred strong men strained beneath his coffin
when they bore him to his grave.

Career: Parks’ writing credits include “The Learning Tree” (1963). Collections of poetry (some with photographs) are: “A Poet and His Camera” (Viking 1968), “Whispers of Intimate Things” (Viking 1971), “In Love” (Lippincott 1971), “Moments Without Proper Names” (Viking 1975), “Arias of Silence” (Bulfinch Press 1994), “Glimpses Toward Infinity” (Little, Brown 1996), “A Star for Noon: An Homage to Women in Images, Poetry and Music” (Bulfinch 2000) and “Eyes with Winged Thoughts” (Atria 2006).









The opening scene of the movie Love Jones with Nia Long and Lorenz Tate which invokes the style of Gordon Parks through the striking cinematography.

I could only find the first ten minutes of the movie on youtube.So check out 0.35s-1m.26s to see What I’m talking about.

XXL’s A Great DAY In Hip Hop Inspired By Parks A Great Day In Harlem (Pic posted above)
On Sept. 29th 1998 thanks to the efforts of XXL, 200 old and new school Hip-Hop artists assembled on 17 E. 126th Street in Harlem to show solidarity as they recreated the photo of Jazz musicians taken by legendary photographer Art Kane back in 1958 at the same address. The East, West, Midwest, and South were all represented the group got together to reflect on how far culture had come as well as what direction it would take in the years to come.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

A monument and a historic event in the Hip Hop culture. This documentary short was shot during the “Jazz Remembered” photo shoot Directed by the late Gordon Parks presented and made possible by XXL magazine. Much respect to the late Gordon Parks and XXL magazine.This short was done for the purpose of spreading, educating and preserving the Hip Hop culture.

List of artists that appeared in A Great Day In Harlem In 1958
* Red Allen
* Buster Bailey
* Count Basie
* Emmett Berry
* Art Blakey
* Lawrence Brown
* Scoville Browne
* Buck Clayton
* Bill Crump[1]
* Vic Dickenson
* Roy Eldridge
* Art Farmer
* Bud Freeman
* Dizzy Gillespie
* Tyree Glenn
* Benny Golson*
* Sonny Greer
* Johnny Griffin
* Gigi Gryce

* Coleman Hawkins
* J.C. Heard
* Jay C. Higginbotham
* Milt Hinton
* Chubby Jackson
* Hilton Jefferson
* Osie Johnson
* Hank Jones
* Jo Jones
* Jimmy Jones
* Taft Jordan
* Max Kaminsky
* Gene Krupa
* Eddie Locke
* Marian McPartland*
* Charles Mingus
* Miff Mole
* Thelonious Monk
* Gerry Mulligan

* Oscar Pettiford
* Rudy Powell
* Luckey Roberts
* Sonny Rollins*
* Jimmy Rushing
* Pee Wee Russell
* Sahib Shihab
* Horace Silver*
* Zutty Singleton
* Stuff Smith
* Rex Stewart
* Maxine Sullivan
* Joe Thomas
* Wilbur Ware
* Dickie Wells
* George Wettling
* Ernie Wilkins
* Mary Lou Williams
* Lester Young

Take note of and remember the following photo quotes. It’s always worthwhile to learn from masters.

1“The wisdom of the wise and the experience of the ages are perpetuated in quotations”. – Benjamin Disraeli

2 “ You don’t take a photograph, you make it. – Ansel Adams

3. “ Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph. – Matt Hardy

4. “ Nothing happens when you sit at home. I always make it a point to carry a camera with me at all times…I just shoot at what interests me at that moment. – Elliott Erwitt

5. “ Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow. – Imogen Cunningham

6. “ You’ve got to push yourself harder. You’ve got to start looking for pictures nobody else could take. You’ve got to take the tools you have and probe deeper. – William Albert Allard

7. “ If I saw something in my viewfinder that looked familiar to me, I would do something to shake it up. – Garry Winogrand

8. “ I always thought good photos were like good jokes. If you have to explain it, it just isn’t that good. – Anonymous

9. “ Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop. – Ansel Adams

10. “It can be a trap of the photographer to think that his or her best pictures were the ones that were hardest to get. – Timothy Allen – On editing photos

R.I.P. Gordon Parks (A True Inspiration)

The photographer begins to feel big and bloated and so big he can’t walk through one of these doors because he gets a good byline; he gets notices all over the world and so forth; but they’re really – the important people are the people he photographs.
-Gordon Parks –

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