On this day in history, Gordon Parks was born in Fort Scott Kansas in 1912. Park’s was able to establish himself within the world of photojournalism and film, to become known as a master artist behind the lens. He was hired as the first African-American photographer for Life Magazine in 1949.
Park was born the youngest of 15 children. Although his mother died when he was just 16, he accredits her with instilling courage and strength within him.
Much of Park’s photography development can be attributed to his time as a photographer for the Farm Security Administration, where he worked under the direction of Roy Stryker during the 1940’s.
Stryker was an economist, government official, and photographer.
His work during the great depression and guidance while at the FSA helped to document the ways government was serving and failing, the people through photography.
Stryker is also accredited with hiring photographers including Gordon Parks, Dorothea Lange and Arthur Rothstein to photograph and document struggles of the rural poor.
“The disadvantages pushes you, if you use it right.” – Gordon Parks
Park’s time at the FSA began with a fellowship he received after serving as a photographer for the St. Paul Recorder in Minnesota. He would work to develop a record of American life under Stryker’s direction, who guided him to develop a deeper sense of the community of Washington D.C and to study the photographs of photographers who came before him.
Park’s eye through the lens captured a sense of American and African-American life in particular, that revealed the realities of life during the time. Park’s is celebrated worldwide for his work and legacy.
Read More: What Gordon Parks Witnessed