By HENRIETTA WILDSMITH, The Times of Shreveport
SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — Twenty-four-year-old Jamal Martin uses his Leica M6 to document where he has been, who he was with and what he has seen. He switches from film to digital, from still to video, with the ease that a younger generation seems to be born with.
In a recent Instagram post, he wrote, “At the end of the day anything that I create will revolve around slowing down and appreciating the beauty around me because it’s easy to just allow the days to pass without stopping and realizing how special the present is.”
He credits his step-father, Jerome Prince, for introducing him to photography.
When Martin was a child, Prince would take photos of the family. They would gather to see the images on the computer, selecting a few for printing. He realized that photos were capturing moments in his life and preserving memories.
He is young, still learning the craft and figuring out what his voice will be, but the Ruston-born and Bossier-raised native knows that this is how he connects to people. He shoots in color and black and white, but feels more connected to the latter; he feels it has more emotion.
Martin has yet to take a formal photography class, saying he prefers his education to be the inspiration he finds from other photographers like Gordon Parks.
“I’m not boxed into a professor or someone telling me a specific way to do my work, I went out into the world and figured out my own style,” he said.
He uses his patience to identify the moments he wants, moments that happen in the blink of an eye. He has learned to push through the fear of approaching people and just getting the shot. “I don’t want to go home and regret that I did not get the photo.”
The majority of people he documents are Black, like him.
“I feel it is super important. Most of the time the Black community gets a bad rap for drugs or violence, things like that, but there is also joy and happiness and beautiful moments,” he said.
Having people see Black joy is important to him, he said.
“I’m a black man, I grew up in America being black, so I relate to these scenes and moments…I connect deeper to these moments than just taking a photograph,” he said.
Martin’s future dreams include showing his work in local galleries. He hopes to have his first show at Minicine? — a roving, pop-up volunteer-run venue for experimental and independent film and video located in Shreveport — before the end of the year. In the meantime, he will continue to explore the city and document what he sees.
“I hope people realize that you don’t have to travel far to get amazing stories or move to a big city. That everything you need is around you. All you have to do is sit back, observe, and work with what you have,” Martin said.
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