Before you start looking for what would have been a super fabulous photo of the legendary photographer and I together, that’s not what’s about to happen. (Sorry! A small part in me cries everytime I think of it, too.) I never got a chance to meet the iconic photographer, film director, writer and musician, who passed away today 7 years ago, but I remember learning about him in college and attending an exhibit after graduation.

All of his work is phenomenal, which goes without saying, of course. He’s become a special source of inspiration in many aspects for me. Here’s a photo I took two years ago riding the tram in Switzerland – it reminds me so much of one of Parks’ photos. I didn’t realize it then, because I wasn’t aware of his photo at the time. But when I discovered Parks and I had documented this similar subject matter later on, it really made me smile. Almost felt as if our souls or minds had somehow connected. Kind of makes up for not getting a chance to meet him in this life, huh? I like to think so.

Child with baby doll on tram in Switzerland. "It's her favorite one." said her mother, as I took the photo.
Child with baby doll on tram in Switzerland. “It’s her favorite one.” said her mother, as I froze the moment in time.

Click here for Gordon Parks’ photo version using the same subject matter.

“I have never gloried at being the first black photographer to enter those closed doors at Life magazine, Vogue or any of the other places. I like to feel they were opened for my race as well as me. I did realize that I’m making fresh tracks, but I never carried the responsibility around on my back like a sack of stones. I simply did my best without asking favors because I was black. Time and time again those tracks have been filled, and this is reason to rejoice.” -Gordon Parks in the autobiography, Voice in the Mirror.

Amazing quote. In a time where blacks were told they couldn’t, he DID, and then some. He didn’t accept a limited way of thinking and because of it, God saw that he performed greatness with his gift. What an inspiration!

Gordon Parks with camera.
Gordon Parks with camera.

He may be gone, but his legacy lives on and I will always be grateful for his contributions to the arts. Check out more beautiful photographs on the master of the camera at Ebony.

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