Dre also shared the first promotional picture featuring himself, Cube and the movie’s director F. Assignment Chicago is a photo blog by Alex Garcia, a Chicago Tribune news photojournalist for the past decade.
Parts of Austin are not safe to walk around carrying a DSLR camera and photographing whatever strikes your fancy.
So, among the other assignments for the projects, when I was asked to make pictures of street life in the commercial district, I had a problem to solve. In wealthier districts like Michigan Avenue, you don't stand out while photographing people on the street. So, in addition to photographing on foot, I decided to cover more ground in the short time given to produce pictures by using a Bogen magic arm to mount a camera from my car facing the street. I became so used to the process that I forgot the impact the images would have on people seeing them for the first time. Because most readers of this blog are limited to photojournalists, journalists, or students looking to understand how pictures are made, I wanted to be transparent about how the images were made. Troy, if you've ever taken a picture of a person and then left without communicating your presence to that person, such as through the use of a telephoto, then your photography is technically surveillance. It's great to see people and life happening in this neighborhood notorious for other things. I don't use telephoto lenses, but often take candid photos without communicating my presence. Hey Axelle, I should probably make this point more clear but as you have experienced, it's possible to walk the streets to take pictures. I agree, it's difficult and you have to watch your back, but there are great people living in these dangerous neighborhoods.
Troy, read this intro to an introduction to Street Photography at the National Gallery of Art, by the genre’s greatest innovators: Walker Evans (1903–1975), Harry Callahan (1912–1999), Robert Frank (b. The idea that folks on the street in Austin and the folks in Lincoln Park respond to a person with a camera in a same way is ridiculous. I am certainly not denying this a difficult, dangerous, if not impossible assignment on short schedule, but if you can't do it in some kind of open, forthright manner, then the ethical thing would have been to tell your editor to get someone else who could operate there- or at the very (very) least, be open and honest enough to call it what it is- surveillance work, pure and simple. The ultimate take away here is- these people are so savage, the only way I could get their picture was to drive around in a protective cage! I was just asked to convey a sense of life on the street, and I used a method that other street photographers, well-regarded ones and pioneers of the craft, have used.
I stand by these pictures as fair portrayals of street life in Austin, and I hope they will make anyone who sees them to invest more in seeing the other pictures that will come from the many days I have spent there. Alex- Speaking for myself (and only myself), I can only react to the photos you have posted here.
I was surprised the paper ran the photos given how charged with racial stereotypes they are. Jennifer, I don't draw the same conclusions from these pictures and see these statements as unfair politicizations of the people in the pictures. Excuse me, Alex, but it is useless to try and discredit the responses of the viewers of your work. But there are assumptions and judgments on comments here and in other social media that go way beyond what people are looking at. As a blog owner, I'm at least allowed the opportunity and responsibility to advise readers that the extent of my involvement is hardly limited to drive-bys.
I live near the Austin neighborhood and see these images as a fair portrayal of daily life there. Why don't you go take photos of the terrifying Wrigleyville white bro folk who harass people. Wrigleyville is well taken care of by the political and economic establishment in the city. The reason we focused our sights on Austin is to bring attention to the plight of Austin and the economic despair and underdevelopment. You can see this lack of economic development manifested in the commercial district, with so many liquor stores and pawn shops that residents had to rise up to pressure a ban (until Ald. You live adjacent to the area of Austin, (which in chicago could mean anything) but what I think you’re trying to say is that you live in the nice neighborhood next door. Why do you feel the need to come to Austin to take pictures of the residents and who is GAINING? You are not sharing the stories of these people you are driving past them for a fraction of a second and presenting that moment as your work.
Just today, after the story ran on which these pictures were based, came the kind of thing that happens when aldermen are investigated about their decisions. A West Side alderman Friday gave a youth football team the money donated to her political fund by a liquor store linked to a drug dealer.


Austin residents had protested the opening of the store because it stands a block in each direction from two other liquor outlets. Graham said Friday she has written a check for $1,950 to Chicago Chargers Youth Football and Cheer, which serves about 200 youth ages 5 to 15, most from low-income sections of the Austin community. I live in a place most people call a ghetto (I do not like to use that term without pointing out the baggage that it has first) I live in the South Bronx. The pictures accompany an ongoing investigation about why Austin has languished - you can read through via the links on the site. Alex, I see that you had good intentions with this set of photographs of street life in Austin, Chicago.
It seems like real community members took time to respond to your photographs - isn't that what art is all about? I implore you to critically examine the impact your photographs are having on the political and social climate of Chicago. How do I show what I see while driving around, without missing the moment by parking the car and getting out? Readers of this blog will know that I'm also someone who has mounted cameras everywhere, from car fenders to my forehead. You have to predict moments before they happen, gauge human behavior, and make a clean image as much as possible. In photojournalism, you could say surveillance is a subset of what we do on many assignments. When I first saw your images before reading the story, I stopped on the one you are describing above. I would be glad talking about it one day, as explaining all the nuances and feelings here, and why doing it, would be too long! If you truly believe that, then there are a few liquor store corners that I can point you to in Austin. This is street photography, yes, but it seems like it has a tenuous relation to journalism, which is about connecting to people and telling stories.
It is not candid photography, it is not street photography in any traditional manner- and I certainly hope it is not the future of photojournalism. I'm not saying you staged these photos in any way, I am not saying you have any ulterior motives. If this is but the start of a much larger body of work where you actually interact with your subjects in a more open and honest manner, then perhaps it should not be presented piecemeal. I was surprised any Chicago photographer would deny having knowledge of racist depictions of black people.
These images are not taken with a racist frame of mind, they are clearly demonstrating the everyday people that live there. The “magic arm” device you “invented” is a tool to help YOU gain access to these people’s image and person that you wouldn’t have been able to access otherwise. This is their livelihood and unless you are doing anything for the people, like community service, getting involved with the aldermen’s office to change the way the neighborhood distributes money, going to the local school and helping the students with a free photography class, I’d suggest to keep out. Deborah Graham's Democratic Party of the 29th Ward committee, the alderman got the City Council to lift a moratorium on new liquor licenses in the 5300 block of West Madison Street, enabling the store to open earlier this year.
It must be noted that these photographs are representative of the exterior of certain individuals who happened to be outside when you took these photographs.
Art affects our communities in profound manners and it is the artist's duty to be mindful of that. Art and journalism are very different but they do share context when it comes to interpretation. Now, via a subtle tweet, Dre has announced the release date for Straight Outta Compton: August 14, 2015. To be sure, there are tree-lined streets and residents who care deeply about their neighborhood.
I connected a Pocket Wizard to the shutter and triggered it while driving from the front seat.
There was, I discovered, even an art to that process as well that reflected the photographer (far) behind the lens.
I could have taken some of the pictures above by walking around with an iPhone, for example, but there are also some I would not have attempted.
I was on Madison as well this time, and as I wrote before, there was no way to take this kind of image, no way in my situation as I saw the same kind of scenes. I think normal people get irritated when you take pictures without their permission, and the folks in Austin are no more or less likely to do so than the folks in Lincoln Park. If you think that, that you need to spend more time in the neighborhood to understand the implications of a camera in an environment.
I purposely tried to show familial interactions and typical street life in order to convey a sense of the normalcy constructed under difficult economic conditions by people trying to live their lives.


Candid photography requires that one be visible in the general area, and if noticed, the photographer can be questioned, and in turn can converse, enlighten, and be enlightened. But these lay the basis for other pictures in which I engage residents in a more personal way. The woman in the orange dress, caught in a sexually suggestive pose while she puts on a backpack - black females are hyper-sexual. I see a man (who happens to smoke) with a child on his shoulders engaged in a child's life. Continuously denying feedback from the community that represents Chicago hurts more than it helps. You can't capture spontaneous street life in the minutes it takes to pull over, park and get out. Journalists are not typically welcomed by those involved in crime or those who witness it either. The second picture was a corner where I observed drug deals throughout the day, so taking pictures from a street would not have been smart. I work everyday on the streets of Chicago, often going into poor and struggling areas, and have done so for some 14 years. That is the antithesis of objectification and the helpless victimhood offered by portrayals of poverty by some photographers.
The man smoking while his baby sucks a pacifier - black males are naturally prone to drugs. I see scenes like those above on a regular basis as someone who lives and works in the Austin area and its surroundings.
I've seen photographs from poverty-stricken areas from around the world (India, Mexico, poor neighborhoods in Mississippi, New York and LA) and the feel is similar.
I have very close friends who are also greatly invested with Austin youth, primarily through church channels. But you can also EASILY (and that is where I take issue) find all kinds of other images too. We only see the context of the outside, similar to what may be seen from looking outside your car window while driving through Austin (with more definition from your camera). Without a strong consideration between your audience and your work, I consider this more exploitative propaganda than art. In the time it would take to make one successful picture while walking around, I can make 3-4 images of situations unrestricted by any situational concerns. I dont see them as unfair portrayals of street life in the commercial district, which was the emphasis of the story. If you have to explain that your work is sensitive and of the people, it is not sensitive and not of the people. If you want to take photographs of people and you exist outside of their social circle the least you could do is put in some effort and get to know them for who they are, not just gain their likeness and drive away like a jerk.
I have lived adjacent to South Austin for over a decade and have met residents at stores, libraries and parks. Sidewalks would vary from their distance to the street, so often pictures would be out of focus. Viewers will not know the everyday struggles of the hard working people in these communities- they're not pictured.
The man walking toward the viewer with mouth open as if screaming and arm raised - black males are threatening. I had to bump up the shutter speed as well, because I was beginning to notice how some people would turn and stare when I slowed down next to the curb. Even local African-American residents who I spent time with did not want to be seen with me, for fear that others would mistake me for law enforcement and they would suffer reprisals. These photos present a voiceless people who will be interpreted by the public however they choose, ie- look at all "those people" doing nothing but hanging out, partying and selling dope in the middle of the day!
I'm sure they were gauging the possibility that the figure in the car was wanting to shoot more than just images.
Sometimes I'd have to wait in a car until they made introductions to make everything clear.
I believe your work will influence the Austin neighborhood positively, bringing for change for the good of the people there. The more I was progressing without leaving my guard and staying on the avenue, the more I could interact with people. And you have denied them any kind of a voice to explain, provide context or prove otherwise- a situation they are already most familiar with.



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