In December 2016, I was in Berlin for a few days with my girlfriend to play some shows supporting one of my songwriting heroes Simon Joyner. It was colder than you could ever imagine, so en route back to our hotel one afternoon, we sought refuge inside the C/O Berlin gallery, showing an exhibition of Gordon Parks, a photographer, who I am ashamed to say, I was not familiar with beforehand.

Gordon Parks

Photography by Gordon Parks


Parks grew to influence as the foremost Black photographer of his day, creating a body of work depicting impoverished life of African-Americans powerfully illustrating the civil rights issues prevalent in America during the 1940s to 1970s (which unfortunately are still all too evident at this present time).

Gordon Parks

Photography by Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks

Photography by Gordon Parks


Alongside federally commissioned jobs and government work, Parks became an important figure at such magazines as Life and Vogue, where he turned his remarkable ability behind the lens to photo essays and fashion shoots, gaining notoriety at both publications through his immense talent, despite the racial constraints that meant it was unheard of for a Black photographer to rise to such a position of pre-eminence at the time.

Gordon Parks

Photography by Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks

Photography by Gordon Parks


Across the various forms he worked within, Parks would use an unflinching, focused aesthetic to highlight the prosaic in his photographs; accentuating the everyday struggles of his subjects to reveal an unsentimental, yet deeply humane truth. The exhibition made a huge impact on me, leading me down a wormhole of writers, artists, and thinkers that I am still yet to emerge from.

Gordon Parks

Photography by Gordon Parks


Alongside his photography, Parks is also known for directing the film Shaft (1971), and a sequel, Shaft’s Big Score, the following year. He also produced volumes of poetry, wrote a novel, The Learning Tree, and recorded albums throughout his life. It’s enough to make one feel worthless in comparison, but instead, I prefer to remain deeply inspired by his breathless creativity and vision.

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A Grave With No Name (aka Alexander Shields) released his latest album, Passover, on January 19th via Forged Artifacts. Check out the excellent 'By The Water's Edge', below.