Jamel Shabazz, Untitled (Downtown Brooklyn), 1984. Chromogenic print. Courtesy of the artist. 

Gordon Parks Foundation / Steidl Book Prize recipient to present first public display of the vintage photo albums from his new book Jamel Shabazz: Albums

The Gordon Parks Foundation is pleased to present Albums, an exhibition of photography by Jamel Shabazz, a Gordon Parks Foundation / Steidl Book Prize recipient, opening April 27th at the foundation’s gallery. The gallery is located at 48 Wheeler Ave in Pleasantville, NY. More information, including an excerpt from an essay about Shabazz by Gordon Parks Foundation Programs Director Michal Raz-Russocan be found at: https://bit.ly/3UVvGHU

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Shabazz obtained his first camera in the mid-1970s and immediately began making portraits in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and The Bronx. His camera was also at his side while he worked as an officer at Rikers Island in the 1980s, where he made portraits of inmates that he later shared with their friends and family. Shabazz took his rolls of color film to be processed at a one-hour photo shop in Chinatown that provided two copies of each print. Shabazz typically shared one with his sitters, and the second he organized into changing, thematic albums that function as portfolios to be shared with future sitters. Jamel Shabazz: Albums, the culminating publication of the 2022 Gordon Parks Foundation / Steidl book prize, features Shabazz’s photo albums, spanning the 1970s through the 1990s. The exhibition at the Gordon Parks Foundation Gallery features over a dozen of these albums, all shown for the first time.

“The Gordon Parks Foundation is honored to show a group of Jamel Shabazz’s albums for the first time and to introduce over three decades of his groundbreaking street photography to new audiences through the publication of his book of the same name,” said Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr., Executive Director of The Gordon Parks Foundation. 

“Shabazz captured the beauty and pride of the people he encountered on the street in the ‘80s and ‘90s,” said Raz-Russo. “We are thrilled to show this work as it was originally circulated—in the albums Shabazz arranged—which testify to the meaningful, lasting bonds he forged over the years within New York City communities and the lasting impact they had.” 

In addition to receiving the 2022 book prize, Shabazz was honored at the 2018 Gordon Parks Foundation Awards for his work inspiring young people in the field of photography and social responsibility. 

This year’s Gordon Parks Foundation Awards Dinner, celebrating the arts and social justice, will take place on May 23rd in New York City. The evening will honor scholar and activist Angela Y. Davis, artist Amy Sherald, businesswoman and philanthropist Clara Wu Tsai, author and producer Crystal McCrary and businessman and community leader Raymond McGuire. Additionally, the Foundation will welcome Kate Clark Harris, daughter of Dr. Kenneth Clark and Dr. Mamie Clark, groundbreaking psychologists who developed the “doll test” experiments, which were photographed by Parks for Ebony in 1947. The evening will also fete the 2023 Gordon Parks Foundation Fellows – artists Jammie Holmes and José Parlá and art historian and Howard University professor, Melanee C. Harvey, who received the Genevieve Young Fellowship in Writing. Famed DJ and producer D-Nice will close the night with a special set for all those gathered. More information here.

Jamel Shabazz, Strictly Old School (Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan), 1980/1990. Courtesy of the artist


Jamel Shabazz was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He picked up his first camera at the age of fifteen and began documenting his communities, inspired by the work of photographers such as Leonard Freed, James Van Der Zee, and Gordon Parks. His work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally, including exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, among others. These exhibitions have been accompanied by several celebrated publications including Back in the Days (2001) and A Time Before Crack (2005). Shabazz has worked as a teaching artist in institutions ranging from the International Center of Photography to the Bronx Museum’s Teen Council youth program. Shabazz was honored at the 2018 Gordon Parks Foundation Awards.


The Gordon Parks Foundation supports and produces artistic and educational initiatives that advance the legacy and vision of Gordon Parks—recognized as the most significant American photographer of the 20th century, as well as a writer, musician, and filmmaker, who used the arts to further “the common search for a better life and a better world.” Through exhibitions, publications, and public programs organized in collaboration with national and international institutions at its exhibition space in Pleasantville, New York, the Foundation provides access to, and supports understanding of, the work and contributions of Gordon Parks for artists, scholars, students, and the public. Through its year-round educational programming and annual grant-making initiatives, the Foundation champions current and future generations of artists and humanitarians whose work carries on Parks’s legacy.


In a career that spanned more than 50 years, photographer, filmmaker, musician, and author Gordon Parks created an iconic body of work that made him one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. Beginning in the 1940s, he documented American life and culture with a focus on social justice, race relations, the civil rights movement, and the Black American experience. Born into poverty and segregation in Fort Scott, Kansas, Parks was drawn to photography as a young man. Despite his lack of professional training, he won a Julius Rosenwald Fellowship in 1942; this led to a position with the photography section of the Farm Security Administration (FSA) in Washington, D.C., and later, the Office of War Information (OWI). By the mid-1940s, he was working as a freelance photographer for publications such as Vogue, Glamour, and Ebony. Parks was hired in 1948 as a staff photographer for Life magazine, where he spent more than two decades creating some of his most groundbreaking work. In 1969, he became the first Black American to write and direct a major feature film, The Learning Tree, based on his semi-autobiographical novel. His next directorial endeavor, Shaft (1971), helped define a genre known as Blaxploitation films. Parks continued photographing, publishing, and composing until his death in 2006.