Dawoud Bey
[Photographer, b. 1953, Queens, New York, lives in Chicago.]

 I always wanted my photographs to challenge the status quo, to contest the kinds of images that existed in popular culture... 
 Black people have been killed for directing their gaze at the wrong person. I want my subjects to reclaim their right to look, to see, to be seen. 
 People say don’t stare. Through the photos, not only do I stare, but I allow viewers to stare at the subject, to see things that they cannot see with a casual glance. 
 While I have devised various formal strategies for articulating [my] concerns, I think fundamentally the work is driven by a basic curiosity. I seek to find out things about people by making photographs of them. 
 If done well, I believe the photographic representation of the human subject has the potential to be more revealing than what is revealed by the eye alone, since the human glance is usually a momentary one. 
 Improvisational things about picture-making... learned from working with the small camera early on have served me well in being able to think quickly when making [portraits].