Showing posts tagged oakland.

faces of men project

Ask me anything   I’m a semi-pro (mostly amateur) digital photographer with no formal training and no pretentious philosophies. Just a passion for picking up the camera and roaming the landscape of urban spaces. These are the faces of intriguing men I've met along the way.

Oakland, CA (August 2008)

copyright: Aaron Douglas

My encounter with Menhuam seemed to be one of happenstance. Not to say that all of the men who have been so generous to stop and pose for one of my street portraits hasn’t left a unique impression in their own right. It’s just that I discovered an incredible wealth of wisdom to be gleaned from Menhuam, and I left this interaction with the sense that I gained a friend, perhaps even a brother.

I was walking down Broadway in downtown Oakland (California) when Menhuam seemed to pop up out of nowhere. He was carrying a large canvas bag full of books and he asked me if I would like to hear about the book he had written and self-published, I Can Do Anything I Put My Mind to Black People: A Manual for Renewal.

As an artist, there’s something to be said about those of us who take a grass roots approach to spread the word about our work. Of course, this gave me cause to want to stop and learn a little more about this intriguingly striking man with the innocent freckles and curly salt-and-pepper hair. Throughout the course of our 45-minute conversation I learned quite a bit about Menhuam’s thoughts on the correlation between the distribution of wealth in America and the current state of the African American community.

Not only did I learn his ideals and opinions on black culture, but I also found out some interesting things about his life. Menhuam is 31 years old and is bi-racial.  His biological mother was white and his biological father was black. However, when he was four years old he was adopted into a family where the mother was black and the father was white. I found it interesting that a white father-figure could raise such a strong black-identified man. 

When he’s not writing books or making waves as a leader in his community, Menhuam makes a living as a certified Journeyman carpenter and is also a student of environmental architecture. He resides in his native city of Oakland with his wife and their three children.

He told me his first name is pronounced “men-who-aim.” …fitting, isn’t it?

— 2 years ago
#oakland  #street photography  #california  #portrait 

Kenny - Oakland, CA (June 2008)

copyright: Aaron Douglas

Kenny was most certainly one of the most memorable guys I met on my street photography excursions that summer. In June 2008, I was in Oakland, California, on business, and I stayed a few extra days to explore the city with my camera. I was walking down Telegraph Road when I saw Kenny sitting along the side of a brick building. He asked if I had a cigarette. I don’t smoke, so I couldn’t help him out with that. However, I did have a few bucks in my pocket and a camera in my hands, and I wasn’t about to pass up a face with as much character as Kenny’s.

Kenny had a very warm personality and he seemed to be quite happy. When I asked him for a few pictures he immediately gave me his best impressions of Sammy Davis Jr. and the rest of the rat pack. He told me he perfected these impersonations by going to the library and reading about the entertainers.

I made another trip to Oakland later that year and I was hoping to run into Kenny again. It would have been a delight to have him in front of my camera once more. I roamed all around the city, but unfortunately was unable to find him.

— 2 years ago