If you really want to understand a community, you have to see it through the eyes of the people who live there. In his first solo show, photographer Terence Price takes an intimate look at Miami Gardens, the neighborhood where he grew up.
Emerging from the tradition of street photography, his work revolves around his family and the people he encounters everyday. The result is a powerful portrait of home, family and community that speaks to contemporary black life. The exhibition is called Dancing in the Absence of Pain and will be on display at the ArtCenter/South Florida from Jan. 16 through March 31. Catch the opening reception tonight from 7-9pm at Art Center, 924 Lincoln Road.
Over the past year, Terence has been an ArtCenter/South Florida studio resident. We asked him a few questions about his inspiration, his technique and what it’s like to be a photographer in Miami.
What drew you to street photography as a form of expression? Who were the photographers that you admired?
What drew me to street photography as a form of expression was how I could use an object to capture my current place and time. At that time, I just wanted my friends to see themselves. But having a camera around me all the time was shaping me into an artist, and that taught me what self-expression was. Street photography gave me access to better express myself without having to say much.
Once I learned that, the list of photographers that I admired grew larger and larger day by day, from Gordon Parks to Carrie Mae Weems, Roy DeCarava, Jamel Shabazz, James Van Der Zee, Lorna Simpson, Andre D. Wagner, Daido Moriyama, Mary Ellen Mark, Martha Cooper, Bruce Davidson, Vivian Maier, Birney Imes and many more.
You photograph your neighborhood of Miami Gardens. What do you want people to see about your community? You’ve said you want to change the narrative. What do you mean?
I want them to see that my community is beautiful. I’m tired of the old narrative that drives people away. Yes, some days aren’t as sunny as others, but that’s what makes a community, unfortunately. I try to operate off the good times juxtaposed against the not so good times, rather than the other way around. It’s a balance. I feel it’s my duty to dive deeper in my community and connect with people on a different level other than what the media portrays us as.
How do you choose your subjects? How do you get access to them?
I don’t really choose my subjects most of the time. I allow myself to be as open as possible and capture what I feel that speaks to me personally. It becomes a dance. I travel to places that I’m familiar with, for safety reasons, and wander around until I feel like I can’t capture anymore. As of late, I’ve been photographing and documenting family to better understand where things started. I honestly feel like most of my inspiration comes from home.
When I’m out in the streets, most of the subjects that are in some of my most cherished photographs are of folks that asked me to take their photograph. I battle with asking people for photographs from time to time, because it becomes a “flip a coin” situation, and it can be scary and discouraging to get yelled at, which has happened to me a couple of times.
Why do you choose to shoot on film instead of shooting digital photography?
It’s hard to explain. It’s really a feeling. There’s something so real in shooting film. I started off with a digital camera, being that the first camera I touched was in the 2000’s, but when I was handed a film camera from my grandparents, I became hooked. The feeling of knowing what you’ve captured but not being able to see it until its developed gave me a rush. Also, the fact that I am limited to 24-36 shots sometimes, keeps my eyes open for the right image to cross my path, I have to be patient and allow the process to become part of me.
How do you hope to inspire people with your photography?
Nowadays, I hope to inspire the youth to pick up a camera and document everything. I want them to see how important it is to take notes of your surroundings, because so much of it is changing, especially here in Miami. I hope to inspire people in general to do the same! After being a part of a teaching program through photography, I really saw kids inspiring each other with art, and that showed me that the youth needs it the most.
What are the challenges and opportunities of being a photographer in Miami?
Some of the challenges is that a lot of places are disappearing, so the type of work that I focus on is becoming a race against the clock before things become some gentrified spot. I want to build with real people. The plus of things, is that the art community has grown a lot, and photography in art is still an open canvas for something fresh.
How would you characterize Miami as a backdrop for your work?
I really don’t know. It’s a pretty diverse place, and holds a lot of history. So in a way, it’s a reflection of me. Miami is me.
What’s next for you?
I like to keep my photography very personal, so it’s hard to say what’s next for me. The journey that I’ve been on with photography has opened doors for me, and granted me the time to keep at it. I just hope to be able to continue for many years to come, meeting great people that are willing to share some time with me. I’ve been writing down things for a few films that I would like to get in motion, but only time will tell.
To see more of Terence’s work, follow him on Instagram at @mxlawkii.