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© Gordon Parks


"Do you ever wonder why one person gets chosen over another, or how a story comes to be told in a certain way? Well here’s something that happened to me recently that gave me new insights about how choices are sometimes made and what it tells us about the people who make them.
In 1961 Gordon Parks went to Brazil for Life magazine to shoot a story about poverty in the favelas of Rio. Parks was famous, the first black photographer to shoot for Life magazine and a consummate storyteller with a camera. His assignment was to photograph a family, concentrating on the father, to illuminate the conditions the family lived in. Through the Life office in Rio, Parks was connected to a family, and he began working on the story.
But the more he shot, the more he found himself concentrating on a different family member, a young boy named Flavio, the eldest of eight children. Flavio, then twelve, was painfully thin and suffered from severe asthma, but something in him connected with Parks and Parks began to concentrate his pictures heavily on the boy. When the Life office heard about it, they tried to get the story back on track. But Parks worked hard to convince them that he was right to concentrate on Flavio, and ultimately they agreed. For twenty days, he focused his camera on the boy, and in the end, he brought home a rich trove of beautifully humanistic images that showed the poverty of the Favelas but also the humanity there."

Gordon Parks, Flavio and Me

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