Gordon Parks
[Photographer and filmmaker, b. 1912, Fort Scott, Kansas, d. 2006, New York.]

 The subject matter is so much more important than the photographer. The important people are the people he photographs. They are what make him. 
 What the camera had to do was expose the evils of racism, the evils of poverty, the discrimination and the bigotry, by showing the people who suffered most under it. 
 I have for a long time, worked under the premise that everyone is worth something; that every life is valuable to our own existence. Consequently, I’ve felt it was my camera’s responsibility to shed light on any condition that hinders growth or warps the spirit of those trapped in the ruinous evils of poverty... To me they were ghosts of my own past. 
 I must attempt to transcend the limitations of my own experience by sharing, as deeply as possible, the problems of those I photograph. 
 You know, the camera is not meant just to show misery. You can show beauty with it; you can do a lot of things. You can show—with a camera you can show things that you like about the universe, things you hate about the universe. It's capable of doing both. And I think that after nearly 85 years upon this planet that I have a right after working so hard at showing the desolation and the poverty, to show something beautiful as well. It’s all there, and you've only done half the job if you don’t do that. 
 ... I feel it’s the heart, not the eye, that should determine the content of the photograph. What the eye sees is its own. What the heart can perceive is a very different matter. 
 We must give up silent watching and put our commitments into practice. We need miracles now, I am afraid. If only we could understand the needs of our past, then perhaps we could anticipate our future. We cannot get too comfortable in our houses. Wolves still roam the woods. The hawk still hangs in the air. And restless generals still talk of death in their secret rooms. 
 I want my children and my children’s children to be able to look at my pictures and know what my world was like. Even if it only helps a little bit toward this understanding, then I’ve done my job and done it well. 
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