A freelance photographer, writer and a teacher, Eugene Richards is a storyteller of the common people. Twice named U.S. magazine photographer of the year, he is often considered one of the world’s best documentary photographers for his hard hitting explorations of our society. Richards currently works with Time Life, national history and the New York Times and is the author of nine books including “below the line”, “American we” and “the knife and gun club”. All in which he uses a combination of photograph and elegantly written narrative to show an idiosyncratic portrait of the American people.
Richards focus is that of the ignored; a people that otherwise have been forgotten. It’s his compassion to his subjects and his commitment to them that surpasses the act of making a pretty picture. Spending days with his subjects in the slums of Harlem or the hardly developed mountains of West Virginia he immerses himself into the frequently bitter life of his next award-winning photo. Often including word for word text of testimonials recorded by junkies and destitute farmers, Richards is able to provide an unbiased portrayal. All he has done is to select and make us look at the faces of the ignored, opinions and reactions are left to be made by the viewer.
Have you ever been at the beach safely shielded by a dark pair of sunglasses and just watched? Being a silent third party to a father screaming at his seven-year-old daughter for putting the inner tube in the wrong place. People watching has for a long time been one of my favorite activities as third party you are able to see people for what they are, unbiased by already having known the person. Eugene Richards’s book has made me look at my hobby from an artistic vantagepoint. He’s made me start to think that one day I would like to be one behind a telephoto lens capturing those moments that people don’t think anyone else saw. Richards photographs have made me relies that photography is more then a point a shoot process. It’s about the image, it’s about the experience, it’s about the hunt, and it’s about looking and seeing.
For the moment I my self am with out a defined higher purpose concerning my art. I’m am still in the beginning stages of building a resource of knowledge and technical ability. So that one day I might be able to capture the true essence of heartache or pure joy through the lens of my own camera with the same honor and dignity as Eugene Richards.
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