Yes I am.
The last blog featuring much in the way of personal photography was back in 2019 when I was quietly exploring a return to Texas. Today, I split time between Raleigh and San Antonio, so figured I’d share the other side of my photography career since that last post.
A lifetime ago, wayyyyyy back in 2020 we underwent not only the start of a global pandemic but in the United States a flashpoint in racial reckoning, specifically with the unequal treatement of African-Americans, most triggered by the murder of George Floyd in May.
In Raleigh, this led to peaceful protests and late at night after these protests, significant vandalization and looting in downtown, especially along Fayetteville Street. The day following this event I walked downtown to scout the condition of the FNB Tower, which due to the damage I wouldn’t get to photograph until the following year.
This also led to the overdue downfall of many Confederate monuments throughout the South, including the famous Lee statue in Richmond, Virginia. As those close to me know I thoroughly enjoy studying graffiti and the sociological environments in which they’re produced and this was most prominent example I could muster imagining since the crumbling of the Berlin Wall. I knew this statue was inevitably coming down, had a specific image in mind of how I wanted to frame, photograph and post-process, and one splendid morning journeyed 3 hours north to capture exactly what I envisioned.
The statues forming Richmond, Virginia’s Monument Avenue – presently all removed after protests and damage – have always cast a deep, long shadow on the local Black community for generations only to be recently reframed in its proper context, as opposed to its previously accepted whitewashing.
There were a few others respectfully visiting the recently edited, makeshift memorial, including a Black man with white beard who seemed my father’s age. He came up to me, sheepishly admitting, “I feel weird asking this” asked to take a picture with him standing in front of the statue. I responded at this moment in history, you can’t pass this sort of thing up; he opened up further and we got to talking, exchanging stories about his ties in Richmond, my extended family from Georgia and our individual and shared experiences in the South.
I expressed I came up from North Carolina specifically to capture -this- image, and how this historical flashpoint uniquely weaved together my photographic studies about the built environment, sociological interest and understanding of graffiti, and personal views on race and a lost cause that deserves no praise.
The man, retired Air Force [and soon-to-retire history professor? teacher? Don’t recall] lived in Richmond most his life, seen ’68, ’92 now ’20 and everything between, witnessing the bravado and narrative behind the celebration of Monument Ave slowly but surely chipped away until this national cultural touchstone. The Arthur Ashe monument constructed in 1996, recently vandalized with “All Lives Matter” was a small, token counterbalance to an entire street dedicated to the Confederacy.
He mused, “People say ‘Oh, look at the beautiful art’. No, no…it’s not art.”
As a photographer, it’s rare in my line of fine art to make visual statements such as this without deviating wildly from my typical body and/or style of work, so when the opportunity came to make the 6-hour round trip, I took it. Looking together towards the defaced pedestal with a mixture of pride and guarded optimism for the future, without a word exchanged, we agreed this memorial has never looked more damn beautiful. These truths may seem self-evident, but for many of us they must be fought harder for a much longer duration.
In 2020, I finished exploring returning to Texas and in 2021 was thrilled to set up shop near downtown San Antonio. Spending extensive time there has led to further opportunities for new sights to explore and evaluate a city at the very beginning of some sweeping changes. The old Merchants Ice building (below) is currently under a major renovation.
Afternoon on East Houston (2020)
The “You are beautiful” signage on the 1221 Broadway parking garage is such a striking great art installation and welcome addition to downtown San Antonio. I loved presenting this area in noir.
You Are (2022)
It’s interesting because I started my architectural journey in Texas but photography in North Carolina, and two decades later have returned with a seasoned set of eyes.
That includes finding trouble I haven’t done regularly in years.
I’m still working mostly in the southeast and that includes Raleigh, NC which is still undergoing massive changes to downtown.
Taylor’s Last Stand (2023)
I’ve been in the Carolina countryside and on assignment in cities such as Charleston, SC and Memphis, TN, occasionally getting a few hours here and there to do something non-work related.
Maple Hill Food Mart & Grill (2023)
In the Red (2023)
In 2022, I had the pleasure of collaborating with Brown Advertising and Design to photograph artistic compositions of city architecture in various North Carolina cities for the Clearing House office space in Winston-Salem. This included photography in Raleigh, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, and Greensboro, some of which wind up going into my personal art portfolio.
After months of scouting, selection and ultimately shooting, three images were selected for installation in their conference rooms. Definitely different than my usual work, appreciate the diversion!
Admittedly I’m not shooting enough personally and while I won’t soon return to the ridiculous output of art photography I was producing 10-15 years ago, aim to increase moving forward in 2024 and beyond.