A Review of Jamel Shabazz’s Autobiographical Documentary Street Photographer

A Review of Jamel Shabazz’s Autobiographical Documentary Street Photographer

Jamel Shabazz reveals one of the first photographs he’d ever taken. It’s on film, which he still uses today (and bless him for that). Against a brick backdrop on a sunny winter day, three beautiful young women pose. “They were the popular girls at school.” All are fresh faced and smiling but one of the girls in the photograph stands out and I begin to examine why. She seems to shine a little brighter, smile a little bigger than her friends. Then Shabazz explains how he had a crush on her and it all becomes clear. She stands out because he made her stand out. He evoked a certain energy that can only be described as je ne sais quoi. Shabazz goes on to discuss how whenever he’s taking a photograph of a group of people, he identifies who the alpha is and makes them feel comfortable. He compliments them to assure that they give him their all, while posing and the ‘troops’ all follow suit.

In the autobiographical documentary Street Photographer the audience is introduced to intimate, behind the scenes details of how such an accomplished photographer came to be. His monographs Back in the Days and A Time Before Crack are analyzed and interpreted by a panel comprised of a wide variety of people. From old friends who grew up alongside him in Brooklyn to hip hop legends such as Fab 5 Freddy and KRS-One, all go into great depth about the semiotics and signifiers that are carefully crafted into each individual photograph. The sheer number of people who know someone in the monographs is a testament to Shabazz’s ability to not only create timeless images, but also his ability to create a sense of community through art.

The photograph that pulled at my heart strings the most was that of Brian and Tanya. Young love is the enchantment that adolescent dreams are made of, that eventually transcends into warm and nostalgic memories later on in one’s life. Shabazz perfectly captures the dynamic of the star crossed lovers as Brian stands firm in his warrior stance while Tanya playfully peeks from behind. Brian’s essence is strong and masculine, but it is Tanya whom I remain fixated on. Her smile is as cheerful as the sun, her wavy hair surrounds Brian’s head like a halo. A commentator in the film speaks on how “Tanya was his heart” and this becomes so blatantly evident upon examining the photograph. It is truly amazing how Shabazz, an outsider is able to infiltrate the relationship with his camera to withdraw such an intimacy that is reserved for the privacy of two lovers. It is mentioned in the film that Brian’s life was tragically cut short. After being involved in an altercation and shot, Brian was arrested. He told police officers that he had been shot but they refused him any help, and he bled to death in the police precinct. Tanya was left with a baby girl as her and her beloved Brian’s legacy. To associate such heart wrenching stories with such beautiful, hopeful imagery truly is a testament to the sort of immortalization that Shabazz creates with his photographs.

In a day in age when mothers sternly warn their children not to play in the streets, Shabazz’s photographs serve as a reminder of a time when being out on the block didn’t mean loitering or causing trouble, it meant socializing and living a life out in the world. It tells the story of a more humane time. A time when hip hop’s style and flavour was still organic and pure. A time when social and racial injustice (unfortunately not too different from present time) was met with the hopes and efforts of young men and women trying to better society through themselves. A time when there was something magical happening in the mecca of New York that needed to be documented for generations to come.

Jamel Shabazz’s autobiographical documentary may be entitled “Street Photographer”, but above all else, he is a human photograph. He flawlessly captures both the triumphant and devastating human condition and brings together both the viewer, the subject and himself in a space where art unites us all. Street Photographer is most certainly a documentary worth watching, especially for artists who crave inspiration and motivation.



  1. Jeane Jiggetts February 2, 2017 at 6:39 pm - Reply

    family doctors tucson az

  2. Bobby Mackesy February 3, 2017 at 4:40 am - Reply

    Fantastic goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and you are just extremely excellent. I actually like what you’ve acquired here, certainly like what you’re stating and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still care for to keep it sensible. I cant wait to read far more from you. This is actually a wonderful site.

  3. This is the right blog for anyone who wants to find out about this topic. You realize so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually would want…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a topic thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just great!

  4. WONDERFUL Post.thanks for share..more wait .. …

  5. Fanatics February 5, 2017 at 8:57 pm - Reply

    Ahaa, its nice discussion concerning this article here at this web site, I have read all that, so now me also commenting here.

  6. авторадиаторы киев February 14, 2017 at 4:37 am - Reply

    WONDERFUL Post.thanks for share..more wait .. …

  7. read the full info here February 14, 2017 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    I just want to mention I’m very new to blogging and site-building and really enjoyed you’re page. Almost certainly I’m likely to bookmark your blog . You absolutely come with tremendous writings. Many thanks for revealing your website page.

  8. draftkings promo February 14, 2017 at 11:11 pm - Reply

    This makes Clash of Clans approach one thing you want todo prior to you commence putting troops.

  9. read 50 shades of grey online free full book February 17, 2017 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    This is getting a bit more subjective, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace. The interface is colorful, has more flair, and some cool features like ‘Mixview’ that let you quickly see related albums, songs, or other users related to what you’re listening to. Clicking on one of those will center on that item, and another set of “neighbors” will come into view, allowing you to navigate around exploring by similar artists, songs, or users. Speaking of users, the Zune “Social” is also great fun, letting you find others with shared tastes and becoming friends with them. You then can listen to a playlist created based on an amalgamation of what all your friends are listening to, which is also enjoyable. Those concerned with privacy will be relieved to know you can prevent the public from seeing your personal listening habits if you so choose.

  10. Technology February 20, 2017 at 7:24 am - Reply

    Excellent blog here! Also your site loads up very fast! What web host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host? I wish my site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

  11. Arts & Dance February 20, 2017 at 9:25 am - Reply

    Thanks for any other fantastic article. Where else may anybody get that type of info in such an ideal approach of writing? I’ve a presentation next week, and I am at the look for such information.

  12. wiro sableng February 20, 2017 at 5:35 pm - Reply

    very nice blog!

  13. SEO Technology February 21, 2017 at 3:26 am - Reply

    Keep working ,impressive job!

  14. Travel February 21, 2017 at 8:11 am - Reply

    I was reading some of your articles on this site and I believe this web site is really instructive! Retain posting .

Leave A Response »