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At age nine, Jamel Shabazz was introduced to photography by his father, who kept a signed copy of Leonard Freed’s Black in White America on the family’s coffee table. Intrigued by Freed’s provocative images of both Southern and urban life, Shabazz knew then it was his calling to document his community and the people who gave it life.
Photography has given Shabazz a sense of purpose, allowing him to connect with the people he encounters on a daily basis. By connecting with his subjects, complimenting their style, and recognizing their potential—and then in turn publishing these images for the world at large to celebrate—in a small but meaningful way Shabazz has been able to counteract the damage society can wreak on self-esteem.
Seconds of My Life, Shabazz’s fourth powerHouse book, delves deeply into the artist’s archives, going back over 25 years and spanning the globe in its representation of human life. Whether in the hills of Jamaica or the shantytowns of Brazil, among the immigrants of France or the Buddhist monks of Bangkok, Shabazz seeks out strong personalities from all races, ethnicities, nationalities, genders, sexualities, and class backgrounds. Shabazz appreciates the poise and confidence of people in all their luminous variety.
Featuring photographs of Dave Chappelle, GrandMaster Flash, The Roots, Sweet Back, Big Daddy Kane, Public Enemy, Kanye West, Common, Mos Def, Russell Simmons, Jill Scott, Roy Ayers, Pete Rock, Jacob the Jeweler, and Grover Washington, Jr., famed fraternities Alpha Kappa Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, Delta Sigma Theta, and Zeta Phi Beta, members of the Nation of Islam, Freemasons, Shriners, Bloods, Crips, cops, and city workers, as well as parades and anti-war protests, Seconds of My Life is an unstoppable tour de force.
Jamel Shabazz’s work has appeared in publications such as The Source, Vibe, Trace, British Elle, Jalouse, Dune, GQ, and French Vogue. In addition, his photographs have been exhibited in Hip-Hop Nation: Roots, Rhymes, and Rage at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, at Xhibiton Transition in Chicago, and at Trace Magazine: True Signs in Paris. Shabazz is a Teaching Artist with Rush Arts Foundation, where he mentors at-risk youth. He is a philanthropist who supports organizations like The Harlem Art Project, The Queens Council on the Arts, and Project Hope. He has published three books with powerHouse:Back in the Days, A Time before Crack, The Last Sunday in June (2001, 2005, and 2003). Shabazz was born in Red Hook, Brooklyn, in 1960.
Lauri Lyons has worked as a photo editor for Magnum Photos, The Source, B.E.T, and Essence, and created photo essays that have been featured in Fortune, Vibe, The Fader, and The London Observer, among others. Lyons’ work has been exhibited in the International Center of Photography, Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum, and her first monograph, Flag: An American Story (Vision On Publishing), was published in 2001.
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