By SADIE PARKER, age 11
Do you love taking photographs? Have you ever thought about being a professional photographer? IndyKids reporter Sadie Parker asks Gerard H. Gaskin what it’s like to see the world through the lens of a camera.
Sadie Parker: How did you start taking photographs? Can you tell us about some of your earliest favorite photos you took?
Gerard Gaskin: I started taking photographs when I was 18 years old. My mother bought me a camera for my 18th birthday. I then started going to a community college in Queens, NY, called Queensborough Community College and started taking photography classes there. That’s where I met my mentor, Jules Allen… On my own, I took images of friends when we hung out together.
SP: How did you learn to improve your photography?
GG: I think you learn by doing; so the more pictures you take, the better you become. I also think that you should read a lot. So I read books by authors like bell hooks, V.S. Naipaul, Frantz Fanon and Lionel Tiger. Reading broadens your understanding of the world, and their writings influenced the content and the messages that my images tried to convey. I also learnt a lot from my mentor, watching him take pictures, seeing the kind of images that he took.
SP: What inspires your subject matter? For example, you’ve recently published a book of photographs documenting House Ballroom a long-held cultural tradition in some black and Latino LGBTQ communities. Why House Ballroom?
GG: I just love taking photographs in and of spaces that the average American usually doesn’t venture into. I feel that I am the middle person who brings hidden communities to the world through pictures.
SP: What do you think makes a great photograph?
GG: A great photograph is an image that talks to you, asks you questions and gives you answers. It informs you, it gives you information, and it also talks to your heart.