On October 22, 2020, Carla Nelson the founder of Black Fashion World Foundation interviewed the legendary Jamel Shabazz, a documentary photographer and a visual artist. Black Fashion World Foundation is a non-profit whose mission is to empower black fashion entrepreneurs through educational events, networking and opportunity events that will guide them in the right direction to access capital or receive mentorship and advice from industry experts.
Jamel Shabazz, born and raised in Brooklyn, learned from his father who served in the army. His uncle and brother are also photographers. He described his skill as as a divine gift and a blessing.
“I have responsibilty to use my eyes to make a contribution to the world. Images that bring joy and love. That have purpose and the perservation of our history and culture. Family photo albums were important to have. At age 15 he picked up a camera. His father had a vast librray of photography books, this is how he learned the power of photography and the creative process.
“The camera is 3 things, time machine, compass and a weapon. Photographs served as roadmaps on his journey of life. it guided him to different places. “
After seeing photographs in the book Black & White America by Leonard Freed. when he around was 8 or 9 years old. Shabazz was exposed to Harlem, segreated south and exposed to racism through this book and unfamilar photography.
It made him want to travel and see the larger country and the world. “The language of photography allowed me see the larger world!’
Spent a lot of time in the local library. Over 45 years of visual memories.
now the imags need to be documentation of protests like George Floyd someone happened to film it!
He introduces himself and gets to know them. Shabazz tells us a photograph is evidence of their conversation. Thats what we don’t see. He needed to be a voice especially in the 80’s. Recognizing their greatness and beauty. He uses his creativity to bring out a positive change in his community. He wanted to know the people to overt the crack and AIDS epidemic which devestated the Black community.
Carla Nelson states “These images will tell our stories fo years to come.” I agree, Shabazz’s photographs capture my childhood and I often refer to his images when styling a retro themed shoot. His photographs were used in my college costume design class at Syracuse University. I was chosen to present fashion during the 1980’s and I was so excited to share what I remember we wore growing up in Brooklyn during 1988. It wasn’t neon leggings or powersuits; we wore leather jackets from Delancey street, Reeboks and gold hoops.
Shabazz replies “I’m doing my part to make sure our history is preserved. I have to be on the frontlines to show a counter balance. I try to find beauty in everybody.”
Some advice he has for aspiring artists include, the importance of studying the greats, be versatile, and try various styles and exhibitions. Shabazz chuckles, “It’s complicated now because everyone has cameras.”
He also suggests that aspiring photographers should also consider doing a book to showcase their work to larger audiences, and self publish! Use the power of social media to share your work and follow other photographers. Develop your own style! Use a different perspective.
For more information visit: https://blackfashionworld.org/