August 31, 2015

A Picture of Compton, Beyond the Gang Lore

When I started taking photos and publishing them online, it was really just to illustrate my writing—to make large blocks of text look more interesting.

I never thought that some people might be more interested in my photography than in my writing.

But trust me, I'll take it.

Like writing, taking photos is a way of documenting the world as I see it. I can't tell you how many times I've stuck my camera in front of something, and someone nearby has asked, "What are you taking a picture of that for?"

I usually say something like, "Just wait til you see it," and then I show them the screen on my camera. Most of them say, "I would've never thought to look at it like that."

I take that as a compliment.

A few weeks ago, the editor of Billboard emailed me to inquire about my photos of Compton. They were preparing a story in support of the Straight Outta Compton movie, and were looking for some images of the Compton that most people never see. They managed to find my 2001 post about Richland Farms, and were considering reprinting at least one of my shots in their magazine.

Screenshot: Billboard

I can't tell you how thrilling this was. After working in the music industry for over a decade, clamoring to get my name—not to mention my headshot—into that magazine with every new job and promotion, it was a remarkable thrill to have them call on me.

Screenshot: Billboard

Besides, my sister and I spent so many Saturday mornings at Wegman's poring over that week's issue of Billboard, lamenting that it was so expensive, and trying to memorize each of our favorite songs' current chart positions.

Screenshot: Billboard

So although I managed to find the Straight Outta Compton issue online, I couldn't resist also buying a hard copy, for old time's sake.

Screenshot: Billboard

When I flipped through it and noticed that they didn't give me a photo credit, I wasn't any less proud. Hey, they paid me for the reprint rights. And I know it's mine.

Screenshot: Billboard

And now I have that clipping. I've done a lot of things in my life that I've been proud of, many of which are somewhat less tangible. But it's different when you get to hold something like this in your hands. Maybe because it's proof to other people. Maybe because it's proof to my future self.

Sure, I don't need the proof. But it's nice to have it.

Related Posts:
Compton's Hidden Agricultural Riches: Richland Farms
A Little Credit

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