Friday, April 20, 2018

My latest interview
From Itchy Silk

Glen E Friedman is a social activist and the photographers’ photographer. His name resounds with clarity inside (and outside) photography and it pulsates with a verve even stronger than it was in 1976 when he started making images of those vibrant sub-cultures: cutting his teeth with Skateboarding and progressing into Punk and Hip-Hop as each began to surface to significance, no doubt in part, thanks to his “voice”.

Like so many who have become an integral part of the fabric of a given period, Glen E Friedman’s interest in photography started as a hobby. The documentation of these sub-cultures ‘quickly’ became a ‘passion’ as it appealed to his need/wish to give his ‘vision a loud voice’. The decibels of that ‘vision’ are set firmly on high.

Iconic, generation defining images of names and important moments from those sub-cultures ensued. But Glen E Friedman’s impact however goes far beyond documenting sub-cultures. It is fair to say that in many respects he helped shape youth culture in those periods where his photographic documentation was intense.

Now in 2018 while his name remains a constant in the photographic world his socially active voice seems even louder and clearer. Indeed, Glen E Friedman seems more intent to push ideas with an anti-establishment bias. Perhaps in these times where ‘we’ are bludgeoned to death by mass media’s agendas on everything from whether to bomb the fuck out of Syria or not and in times where the obfuscation from politicians is even more pronounced-we need an anarchic voice for us to collectively state; ‘fuck your truth we will find our own truth.’

Can you name a moment, image or person that created your initial spark for the creative disciplines and indeed what was it about that moment, image or person that helped light the fire?

No, I cannot, except to say, when I felt that something was going on around me that was happening nowhere else on earth that I have heard of, it inspired me. I was excited and stoked. I wanted others to feel it the way I did. It felt revolutionary because it was!

As a photographer what was it about your formative years that helped to lay the foundation for your interest in photography-in hindsight were you destined to pursue this career?

No, not at all-photography was a hobby, but it became a passion very quickly once I realized it gave my vision a loud voice. Once I noticed it articulated my visions to solid proof I got energized and confident, that what I was seeing and what I was doing with the tool (camera) was worthy and maybe even somehow important.
Do you ever wonder who or what Glen E Friedman would be if he were not in photography-what could you have been?

Not really. I don’t have the time to think about it in such personal abstract ways. When I ponder or wonder it’s about more worldly things like what if humans don’t fix the environment, what or why did we as a species even evolve as we have, what’s going to happen to us is my biggest curiosity?

The youth cultures/counter cultures you captured appeared to have some ethereal and concrete cause how did you capture that essence in your work and what images do you think best showed that?

I captured, or should I more accurately say I framed those moments in my own idealized way because they inspired me. I saw urgency and importance, and I saw and learned that to really inspire others they needed to be framed properly. It helps outsiders relate and helps practitioners to respect and cherish. It was and is about accuracy and beauty, not just mere show and tell-it’s about going beyond the standard ‘capture’ school of thought. Fuck that mediocrity you got to go beyond to be heard, to be seen, to change.

Your bio talks about your ‘science of defiance’ with figures like Ice T. How important was that period in terms of Hip-Hop and the socio-political climate at the time-what was the essence of what you were trying to capture?

I was attempting to help others tell their stories, to share their culture with the outside world. It was about bringing; understanding, consideration, education, love, and integrity. “Keeping it Real” was the slogan. I became one of the biggest proponents of this idea. I believed, lived and enjoyed the art and action that I saw going on around me immensely. Sharing it with the quality of images the culture deserved it was my personal responsibility at that point. I had had success prior with the cultures of, Skateboarding and Punk Rock and exposing and inspiring others. It expanded even further, past my own first-hand experiences to those of my new friends and the new music that was teaching and inspiring me.

Click HERE: for the rest of the interview

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