Posts Tagged 'documentary photography'

You a Sneakin’ Mutha…

discarted

I sit in the driver’s seat of William’s truck as rush hour traffic collects just below us on the 101 freeway. It’s August and sweat collects on the back of my neck and arms as the first significant heat wave brings triple digits to Los Angeles. It’s so hot out that if you look at the pavement long enough, you can see the shadows of invisible nuclear vapors slithering across the sidewalk.

I’m bored and even more depressed, but can’t stop myself from coming here. I think about all of the things I’ve fucked up in my life. I think about my family that I’ve been away from for almost a decade. I think about my ex-girlfriend. I think about leaving L.A., so I can see my family and ex-girlfriend. I think about this prostitute I wanna photograph.

And then a cockroach pokes its body out from in between the bent pages of an 18 magazine that’s been dumped on the dashboard. It’s female and carrying eggs. I think about crushing it with my hand, but it zigzags across a collection of odd items and junk and then crawls into an empty Shasta can before I can make a decision. Growing up people would often say that a cockroach could survive the aftermath of an atomic bomb, but in Los Angeles, when you wake up in morning you can find dozens of them dead on the sidewalk.

I sit in the driver’s seat of William’s truck watching them, waiting for something to happen.

Me: That doesn’t hurt?

William: Fifteen yars locked up, whadda you think?

CLICK.

Joe: Ooh there he go again with that camera…sneakin’ mutha fucka takin’ my picture! Right when I’m takin’ a drink too! You a sneakin’ MUTHA FUCKA!

Williams shitty plastic razor scrapes across his neck. A drop of blood pokes through his skin.

Joe: WILLIAM! How come you don’t ever let me sit in the truck, but you let h-i-m?

Joe takes another big drink, consuming what’s left of his 211. He looks at me.

Joe: You still my boy.

Joe raises a tightened fist and pushes his arm through the driver’s window. I reciprocate and press my knuckles against a collection of open sores and wonder what diseases he might have.

The thought passes and the day drags on.

Charles Moore, 1931-2010


Birmingham, Alabama 1963 Photo by Charles Moore

Influential civil rights photographer Charles Moore died last week  in Florida. He was 79. His iconic images from the 50s and 60s, especially those of police, fire hoses and dogs attacking black protesters, were widely credited with changing the national mood and paving the way for civil rights legislation. Without his images appearing in Life magazine, the average American couldn’t really understand what was going on. His impact can probably not be overstated.

In Birmingham when I saw the dogs I don’t think anything appalled me more, and I’ve been to Vietnam,” Mr. Moore told the New York Times in 1999. “I photographed it, and the world rushed in. I realized the power of even one image. . . . What changed was my awareness. I wanted to show how awful, how vulgar, how terrible this whole thing was.”

For more, read the Washington Post tribute and watch the BBC slide show.



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