No wonder Gordon Parks felt like he was just beginning. He must’ve been energized by his own accomplishments. He was some kind of creative Jeffersonian genius. There wasn’t much he couldn’t do.
I love that photography was woven through so much of what he did.—he understood the power of the printed and moving images. He was Jackie Robinson with a camera. He cracked Life Magazine and Hollywood and did it all with a sense of activism.
Parks said that freedom was the theme of all his work; he described it as “Not allowing anyone to set boundaries, cutting loose the imagination and then making the new horizons.” him —Nick Kelsh
Gordon Parks (1912–2006) was a groundbreaking American photographer, musician, poet, novelist, journalist, and film director.
He is best remembered for his photo essays for Life Magazine and as the director of the 1971 film Shaft.
A 1948 photo essay on a young Harlem gang leader won Parks a staff job as a photographer and writer with Life. For twenty years, Parks produced photos of subjects including fashion, sports, Broadway, poverty, racial segregation, and portraits of Malcolm X, Mohammed Ali, and Barbra Streisand. His 1961 photo essay on a poor Brazilian boy who was dying from bronchial pneumonia and malnutrition, brought donations that saved the boy’s life and paid for a new home for his family.
He was the first African-American to work at Life Magazine, and the first to write, direct, and score a Hollywood film. He was profiled in the 1967 documentary, Weapons of Gordon Parks.