Created In Brooklyn: A Conversation With Randy Duchaine
One of the things I’ve discovered, or I should say rediscovered, while doing On Taking Pictures with Bill, is my fascination with sharing interesting stories. I love learning about people; not only who they are, but also the things that inspire them and the passions that drive them. For the past three years, Faded + Blurred has been focused on sharing the work of artists and photographers that moves and inspires us, whether in short, daily posts, or in our deeper Spotlights. As we move forward, we are expanding our content to include more of these stories, narratives and conversations with creatives across different genres. For the first of these conversations, I was fortunate to sit down with Brooklyn-based photographer, Randy Duchaine. For more than 30 years, Randy has been sharing stories through portraiture. He recently opened a show at the Brooklyn Central Library called, Created in Brooklyn, which for two decades, has allowed him to celebrate the people and the creativity of the neighborhood he calls home. In a fascinating conversation that is inspiring, entertaining and even, at times, a little raw, we talk about the enduring legacy of photography, making pictures because you have to, and his admiration for Gordon Parks, whom he describes as “an elegant and refined man.” I love that.
Download: MP3 Audio (29.6 MB)
On what inspires him:
“I gave up a long time ago trying to impress anybody or trying to win any client’s approval or designer or a magazine. I think the best thing you can do, you have to be true and authentic to yourself. What inspires you? What are you attracted to in life? And, for me, the game has always been people.”
On how he approaches working with clients:
“I could never figure out photographers who complained about clients, and this, that, and the other thing. I always said that most clients are a challenge, they want to feel comfortable. I mean if you’re hired, and you’d kill for them, and do whatever it takes to make them feel comfortable and win their trust, that’s the relationship then. That goes on to other things. And in some ways that’s more important than self-promotion, because once you get a client, and they believe in what you’re doing, and they trust you, they’ll tell ten other people.”
On what he loves about the power of photography:
“Photography is powerful and the simplest thing known to mankind. Most of us go around living our lives unrecognized, unfulfilled, and when you take a picture of somebody you say ‘You’re important. I like you. I admire you. I love you. You matter.’ and in this case I’ve done that with over a hundred people, so you can imagine when you bring them together, and people see that, it’s very, very fascinating and satisfying to me to see it.”
On what holds us back:
One of the great things about working in something like photography is it has its own sense of democracy. You can achieve whatever you want. Nobody can hold you back except yourself. Nobody, today, can say, I’m gay, straight, black, white. Nobody cares… People pursue it over a duration of time and they consider you a giant, or whatever it is, but it’s just people doing the same thing that you and I do. They just are willing to keep working at it, no matter what, and I think perseverance is what triumphs over all this stuff.