Travel photography isn’t just limited to shooting magnificent landscapes and stellar sunsets. Travel Photography is also about documenting an important facet of travel – the people themselves. A great portraiture is achieved when travelers apply extra effort in immersing themselves in their surroundings, thus capturing candid images of authentic life in and around the neighborhoods and regions that they travel. For Instagram focused travel and street photographer Shawn Theodore (@_xst), photographing people is as important as taking pictures of structural landmarks and the majestic natural wonders around him. His series of photographs depicting various portraits of residents of African-American neighborhoods in the United States provides a visual feast that is hard to ignore. “I want people to be attracted to the color, but also to get to know the people. I really love being able to put my people up on a pedestal” Theodore tells Instagram blog.
The 45-year-old photographer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was inspired by Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man“, after noticing a series of issues raised by the book, paralleled with his own personal journey. Looking at people in a different light, he started associating the movements of individuals with that of the collective aesthetics of our surroundings. “I started to see a greater context — people are being pushed out, people are disappearing, houses are being torn out.” Highlighting rich colors and an array of unique physical expressions of his subjects, Theodore has carved his own identity in street photography – teaching us amateur travel photographers a lesson in appreciating the people more in the places we explore.
“I want people to feel the vibe before it changes, to understand the spirit of a neighborhood. I don’t want people to think of one city,” he says. “These folks won’t be here in 10 years. The buildings won’t be here. Being able to capture the ebb and flow is a big deal.” Dishing out a series of inventive portraiture that showcases his skills in framing and spotting his subjects spontaneously, Theodore weaves together a fascinating story of the diverse group of people inhabiting the many African-American neighborhoods in the United States. Proud residents who carry their unique culture with them as they find themselves being the subject of Theodore’s camera.
To follow Shawn’s street journey into other African-American neighborhoods in the United States, please follow him @_xst on Instagram.
See more of Shawn Theodore’s portraiture below: