Photo Courtesy of Jamel Shabazz
Photo Courtesy of Jamel Shabazz


Jamel Shabazz, Documentary Photographer

Sitting down with Jamel Shabazz at a chess table in that little park across the street from the Brooklyn Museum was like flipping through a living history book of New York City. His passion for photography and his community was infectious. One of my biggest takeaways was his emphasis on creating meaningful images. He wasn’t interested in just capturing a snapshot; he wanted his photos to tell a story, to speak to the viewer on a deeper level. And that is precisely how I felt the first time I opened one of his early photography books, Back in the Days.


Listen to Jamel Shabazz tell his Story


It was fascinating to hear about his Brooklyn upbringing and how the Vietnam War impacted his surroundings. It was clear that these experiences, coupled with his father’s early encouragement, sparked his lifelong love for photography.

Interestingly, Shabazz served in the military himself. He spoke about how that time shaped his perspective, ultimately leading him to pursue a career celebrating the human experience rather than conflict. Empathy was another thread woven throughout our conversation. Shabazz doesn’t just photograph people; he connects with them, building relationships that shine through in his work.

We also discussed the challenges and rewards of self-publishing. While navigating the traditional publishing world can be tricky, self-publishing gave Shabazz complete creative control and allowed him to connect with his audience personally.

We conversed about the impact Shabazz’s work has had on the culture. His photographs are more than just art; they’re historical documents that capture the essence of a time and place. We talked about his artistic influences, creative process, and dedication to mentoring young photographers. It was clear that giving back to the community was an important part of his journey.

Shabazz’s reflections on the changes he’s witnessed in his life and society were particularly thought-provoking. His photography serves as a powerful record of these transformations.

Overall, this conversation was a masterclass in the power of photography to shape social narratives. Shabazz’s dedication to his community and storytelling inspired me to use my talents in the same way.

This short reflection on my conversation with Jamel Shabazz offers a glimpse of his story. However, for the full spectrum experience, try scrolling back up and listening to the entire conversation to unlock the complete story.

New York Said Logo