Today is the birthday of the one and only Gordon Parks, master photographer, author and filmmaker. He would’ve been 104 years old. Celebrate the birth of a pioneer and get to know the photographer who paved the way for many others by watching and reading these five unique interviews listed below.
Gordon Parks Interview on Charlie Rose (2000)
CBS News Interview with Brian Pitts (2006)
Before his death in 2006, Parks did this CBS News interview in which he begins by discussing the obstacles he faced being the only black photographer at LIFE, at VOGUE, in DC and essentially everywhere. Parks goes on to give the backstory behind some of his most famous images and his film, Shaft. “Don’t give up,” is the timeless advice Parks gives to aspiring photographers.
Gordon Parks: My First Photography Job
Also known for his elegant fashion photography, Gordon Parks went on to shoot for VOGUE for many years. In this interview, Parks recalls his first photography job for a local clothing store and his mistake of double exposing all the images he took on this first paid shoot. The story ends on a good note but it’s so lovely to see Parks tell this story with such humor and humility and his tenacity to get the job done despite his failure is admirable.
Interview with Malcolm X (1965)
Although this interview between Gordon Parks and Malcolm X is more about Malcolm it is a great exchange between two men who both loved photography and clearly had a close, trusted friendship. In this conversation, held on February 19th just two days before his death (Malcolm died on February 21st), Malcolm reveals his newfound views on racism to the attempts on his life by his very own Black Muslism brotherhood. An amateur photographer, Malcolm was said to always have his camera with him. Photography was his way of “collecting evidence”, according to Parks in this 2012 NYT Lens Blog article by Maurice Berger. See more of Gordon Parks’ images of Black Muslims from the Gordon Parks Foundation archive.
C-SPAN Interview (1997)
In this short, 3-minute interview, Parks talks about his schooling, facing discrimination and surviving as a black man in America against all odds.