Photographer Profile ~ Gordon Parks.

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. Parks was the first black photographer for LIFE magazine.

Parks was primarily a photojournalist, nonetheless has a portfolio of images that range broadly in subject matter and serve as distinct markers in American history: from haunting images of gang warfare in Harlem and turbulent Black Panther meetings to the height of haute couture for Vogue and recent colorful landscapes and still lifes that juxtapose color, light and shape. "I have loved all of the various aspects of photography," Parks says. "They've kept me alive and in pursuit of something special."

"In New York growing up, you never saw a black person on the street, you never saw a black person in the store, you never saw them in a restaurant. It just didn’t exist. So when Gordon and I met, it was really without any boundaries. First of all, he was drop-dead good-looking. We just looked into each other’s eyes, and we were friends." ~ Gloria Vanderbilt


"Those people who want to use a camera should have something in mind, there's something they want to show, something they want to say...," Parks explains. "I picked up a camera because it was my choice of weapons against what I hated most about the universe: racism, intolerance, poverty.

Scene from Shaft ~ Directed by Parks

"Many times I wondered whether my achievement was worth the loneliness I experienced, but now I realize the price was small." ~ Gordon Parks

A conversation with Gordon Parks

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