i am a photographer because my grandfather, Samuel W. Ware Sr., was a photographer. He worked at the Post Office after serving in the US Military. The image above was taken by one of his buddies while he was serving during the Korean War. He used a Contex 35 mm with a Zeiss prime lens. The images he took of his/my family when he was home were compiled in family photo albums my grandmother cherished.
When i was old and brave enough to ask to look through them, i felt like i was getting to see my family for the first time. Aunts had afros, my father looked just like me or vice versa, and i saw images of my parents playing at the park with my older sister before i was a thought. The images moved me as did the experience of holding the book in my hand. The pages were heavy and the plastic protecting the memories made an oddly pleasant sound when i turned the pages.
It took me a while to understand that my grandfather’s composition was so seamlessly smooth. i can look at his images now and see his creative intentions. He was more than recording fleeting moments, he was making art. My grandfather may not have been a photographer by trade and may have never earned a dollar for his art but he built a foundation for my father and six aunts. He also taught me the art and power of photography. Sometimes all you have beyond your memory of a person or an event is an image that keeps those people and events fresh.
i am also a photographer because i see magic happening everywhere. It’s fleeting and constant. Around the same young age that i discovered my grandmother’s photo albums, i was playing with GI Joe action figures, Transformers, and my Kodak Disc camera. They were all toys to me. i remember being so excited to pick up my film. As i have matured, this anticipation of getting film results continues to bring me a childlike joy, which is why most of the work on this site is shot with 35 mm film.
Becoming a teen, a father, and a husband with a camera the entire journey has given life a sweet and savory quality that i cherish like my grandmother did her husband’s photographs. My photographic practice is 111% about storytelling. My work is all categorized as stories, even the works in progress.
- kamau ware (kw)
(photo credit) © Kamau Z. Akabueze 2011