May 22, 2022

Jamel Shabazz Shares Wonderful Stories of His Iconic Photos

As I look at the existing situation in the NYC Subway system in regards to mask-wearing, it is all too surreal for me, having spent so much time riding the trains and seeing and photographing so numerous individuals. They were all fellow professional photographers, who specialized in Polaroid photography and made their cash photographing folks often in a regal-looking wicker seat (known as a peacock chair) versus a broad range of portable backgrounds in the heart of Times Square. The young male on the far right, Shabey (noticable Sha-bey,) was a master of the craft and is responsible for photographing thousands of folks during much of the 1980s in and around 42nd Street.

For Black History Month, we chose to concentrate on Jamels images. What he provided us is a wonderful insight into the photos.

” During the 1990s, this place went through significant remodellings, changing most of the landscape. Gone are the adult shops and sleazy theaters, changed with more family and traveler friendly facilities. In comparison, todays Times Square looks more like Disneyland.”.
Jamel Shabazz.

Phoblographer: Tell us the story about the women on the train. What made you want to photograph them and what were your interactions? Looking back and thinking of how the NYC subway requires everyone to wear masks, what are your sensations? And today, what would you have possibly done differently if you were to find and picture these 2 again?

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“What I discovered early on as a professional photographer was, that person who is dressed fashionably tend to be more open to being photographed,” discusses Jamel Shabazz to us in an interview about these images. Mr. Shabazz is a legend who does not need an intro.

Phoblographer: Tell us the story of the second photo, please. What attracted you to these gents? Did they all intuitively strike the exact same posture basically? What was your conversation like with them? Where was this shot? Considering just how much NYC has changed, when you recall at this image, what do you think are among the most significant changes to where this picture was shot?

All images by Jamel Shabazz and used with permission. Please follow his Instagram.

These images belong to a display coming to the Museum of the City of NY and will be on view as part of Celebrating the City: Recent Acquisitions from the Joy of Giving Something Foundation. It will be open to the public on February 18th. According to the press release, the exhibition will feature approximately 100 photos picked from the more than 1,000 images just recently talented to the Museum by the Joy of Giving Something (JGS), a non-profit organization devoted to the photographic arts.

“What I discovered early on as a professional photographer was, that person who is dressed fashionably tend to be more open to being photographed,” discusses Jamel Shabazz to us in an interview about these images. According to the press release, the exhibit will include around 100 photographs selected from the more than 1,000 images recently gifted to the Museum by the Joy of Giving Something (JGS), a non-profit organization dedicated to the photographic arts.

Jamel Shabazz: I understood these Brothers really well, prior to taking this image. They were all fellow professional photographers, who specialized in Polaroid photography and made their cash photographing folks usually in a regal-looking wicker seat (referred to as a peacock chair) versus a wide variety of portable backdrops in the heart of Times Square. Their fee was $3.00 for one framed 4 x 6 print, or 2 for $5.00. The young guy on the far right, Shabey (noticable Sha-bey,) was a master of the craft and is accountable for photographing thousands of folks throughout much of the 1980s around 42nd Street. My quick conversation with them was rooted in photography, as they took a break from taking images. Seeing that 3 of the four of them had hats on, I understood that the hat shop would serve as the perfect backdrop. This picture was made on the corner of 42nd Street and 7th Avenue and they are instinctively presented the same method, as they are all members of the same mindful fraternity. Throughout the 1990s, this location went through significant remodellings, changing the bulk of the landscape. Gone are the sleazy theaters and adult shops, replaced with more household and tourist-friendly facilities. In comparison, todays Times Square looks more like Disneyland.

As I look at the present situation in the NYC Subway system in concerns to mask-wearing, it is all too surreal for me, having spent so much time riding the trains and seeing and photographing so lots of people. Looking back at this photo, I would have taken a second one with an entirely various pose.