“I started taking pictures to keep a record of the extraordinary times and events in which I have had an opportunity to participate. To be truthful, the deal was if I had a good camera I would go to college and my parents bought the deal. I always preferred participating in the movements for justice, equality and peace to just documenting them, but there was often time to record what I was doing. Making a record then pushed me to study composition and visual story telling, then darkroom work and now digital processes. The work of building a new world and inventing a different future has an energy and a dedication to community that I think is visible even when frozen in time and light.
Another consuming interest for me is jazz, a musical form in which the future is invented measure by measure in real time. Growing up in New York there were jazz bars that herded the obviously underage patrons in a specific section of bar so we could just pay to listen. I was hooked and at some point I thought I had learned enough to capture images of musicians in performance. Extremes of light and shadow, colors that are hot and then one degree off just disappear, the energy and the sound all come together present a challenge to show the process of thinking a new thought.
From this work comes an interest in seeing beauty in our daily lives. Most of my photography now is working on seeing in ways that frees an image to help us see it anew or differently. I still work on documenting social movements and I keep adding to the jazz series and I am now working on putting together some new work that push me towards integration of text and image in small book and poster formats.
I have the good fortune to have a wonderful day job so that I can donate the proceeds from sales of these images to elect progressive Democrats and support our President against the right wing and racist attacks which threaten all of us. So, if you like the images buy them now and help us keep on the road to progress and justice.”
Robert J. Brand is a business executive, a political activist, and a photographer.
Brand’s photographs are in the collections of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University, the Southern Civilization Collection at the Vanderbilt University Library, and the Pennsylvania ACLU.