I was inspired by Joseph Rodriguez before I realized I was looking at a Joseph Rodriguez photograph. Several years ago I picked up a copy of The Beat Within, Illustrations from the Inside, which along with artwork included a few photographs from Joseph Rodriguez. It would be a few years as my interest for photography grew before I started to connect the photographs I'd stumble across on the net to the name, Joseph Rodriguez. This text Juvenile is a work of art... an incredible collection that tells a powerful story of the lives represented through Rodriguez's lens along with Rodriguez's own life as well. Below is a link to the Amazon location for purchase and the quote included at the beginning of the book by James Baldwin, source "Autobiographical Notes".
"One writes out of one thing only - one's own experience. Everything depends on how relentlessly one forces from this experience the last drop, sweet or bitter, it can possibly give. This is the only real concern of the artist, to recreate out of the disorder of life that order which is art. The difficulty, for me, of being a Negro writer was the fact that I was, in effect, prohibited from examining my own experience too closely by the tremendous demands and the very real dangers of my social situation." - James Baldwin
Recently caught an episode of the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on Fernando Valenzuela, titled Fernando Nation by filmmaker Cruz Angeles. In the 80s I collected sports cards for basketball, football, and baseball. I got rid of most of my card collection hanging on to some of my favorite cards of the time. These two are my only Fernando Valenzuela cards. Quite a story. The first card covers statistics between the years of 1980-85' and the second Upper Deck card covers years 1986-90'. 1990 was his last year as a Los Angeles Dodger. The entire Fernando Nation documentary can be viewed on YouTube: click here.
"I asked for a writing/photography job. I showed them a few things I'd published - in my high school newspaper, for Cal State's MEChA newspaper, a letter to the editor. They seemed impressed. People poised towards writing were rare finds. They also asked if I'd work the darkroom, developing film and operating a halftone camera, a large mechanical contraption that resided photos and made halftone reproductions for the layout editors. I said sure, I wanted to learn.
With a camera and a notepad, I covered car accidents, gang shootings, weddings, and graduations. I overworked at this job, which paid hundreds of dollars less a week than I had made in industry. As the only photo developer at EGP, I also spent many hours a week in the darkroom, set up next to the layout room. I developed rolls of black-and-white film in canisters. We used the old method with chemicals - developer, fixer, running water. I made contact sheets that Jonathan used to pick out the pictures I then developed for the newspapers."
Maria Varela says, "I never considered myself an artist... I had a job to do, and I couldn't affford the luxury of being an artist... But there was a reason I was shooting in the first place... And basically the theory behind my shooting was these are strong beautiful people that are not seen in this country. They are not paid attention to. They are not icon material, you know, but here they are." Not exactly what you learn in the photojournalism class where the pursuit of the icon, the completely self-referential image, is defined as the goal that protects the photographer's "objectivity." Varela says, "I knew you not only had to use the words of local people about how they did something, you had to also use pictures showing them taking leadership roles in their own communities."
Article: Getting Past the Icon - Should Photographers Depict Reality, or Try to Change It?