Tuesday, April 14, 2009

*Keeping it real*

“If you wanted an image to represent keeping it real Jamel Shabazz’s body of work would be the perfect example.”

-Jerome Jenner

Jamal Shabazz has been around for three decades and helped open the public's eyes to the city streets. Jamel is a mirror of the streets, reflecting and documenting everything about it. I was fortunate enough to meet up Jamel before I was able to handle and hang his work. Looking through a massive portfolio sitting a crossed a small wobbly table at an Italian café somewhere in the lower east side of Manhattan. It only took a few moments, meeting and walking from the subway station, to sitting in the Café and then finding a worthy comparison to the mannerisms of Jamel. I was floored from what I have seen through his lens. I am in aw at what he has seen and how he has been able to document so much. Sitting with him in that café made me able to understand his work methods and how he approaches his subjects.

Looking through a large body of work, Jamel would be talking to me about a couple new projects filling in with all the whys and how’s then all of a sudden he would be saying “excuse me I have to get this” and there I was, alone looking at his portfolio. After a the few times he had left the table a mother and son sitting near by both looking at a table full of photos and why that hell this guy was getting up and running after people and taking there picture. I looked at lady in a welcoming manor and then she asked the most obvious question “is he a photographer or something”. With my natural sarcasm aside, I explained to her about Jamel and the proceeded to show her and her son his work. It is next to impossible not to love Jamel work. When Jamel came back to the table the lady and her son were in the middle of all the images. Jamel engaged the two like he know them from middle school always with keeping his humble reserve.

After talking about there trip to New York from London he asked them to be in a shot over by a blossoming tulip, one of the first of the year. Jamel has a story behind all of his subjects some more elaborate then others but each photo is a visual diary of his life. To me this experience was a perfect example of how he works in this environment. All ways looking for the next person, remembering the most unique backdrops of the aria and trying to merge the two with a natural direction not by forced composition just by persistence and divine intervention. Jamel is on the top of my top three photographers of our time.


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