moment sublime, smile
compose dog day sunlit gaze
tick! time is tender
— ava wood
Charles W. Thomas, photographer of Giving Back recently reached out to a respected and highly accomplished artist in the field of photography and asked that she preview our book and provide advance commentary. Given the range of demands on her schedule, we are honored that she dedicated time to read our book. And given her credentials as a photographic historian and expertise as a curator of photography, we are nourished by what she has written . . .
“Giving Back looks poignantly at the notion of giving. The meticulously edited narrative enlightens us about the idea of caring and sharing communities. From this book, one sees through Thomas’s photographs relationships marked by respect and honor. The text and photographs inform the reader about strength, in multiple perspectives.
“Through the rich photographs—which are full of spirit and beauty and enhanced by the framing of the subjects—we see Thomas’s respectful eye. Giving Back simply tells us that Black people care which is evidenced in the photographs and the narratives. This book is useful for anyone who is interested in philanthropy but also will be appreciated by people who have a love for portrait photography.
“Giving Back is a valuable resource and, in my view, will encourage others to reconsider what it means to give. It is a welcome addition to books promoting this field. I found the idea of the book stimulating, as it is a much-overlooked discussion. Fullwood and Thomas assembled a remarkable book that informs and honors. It enables us to imagine through the quotes, as the photographs illuminate and engage us about the pleasure of giving. ”
— Deborah Willis, Ph.D., author, historian, photographer, 2000 MacArthur genius award recipient and professor at New York University
“A man’s feet must be planted in his country, but his eyes should survey the world.” — George Santayana
The best luck I’ve ever experienced in life is my beautiful mother. Continue having a Happy Birthday Week, Momma!
“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.” — Abraham Lincoln
“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” — Henry Ward Beecher
Today is the birthday of Charles W. Thomas, Jr., the photographer for Giving Back. I’m taking the occasion to publicly thank Charles for collaborating with me on this project. Our dispositions and skill-sets proved a good match; however, it was a shared pride in our cultural heritage and love of our community’s stories that defined our work together. (Though, my loyalties as a Tarheel might rightfully be questioned for working so well with a Duke grad! Sorry about that.)
Still an amazingly vivid memory, my initial conversation with Charles happened almost four years ago. We had crossed paths professionally, but neither of us truly knew the other or had never even had a one-on-one conversation. Months earlier, I had conceived of and mapped out the book project and was now in search of a photographer.
I wanted to find someone who would approach the project with an artist’s eye and could capture the striking beauty of our people and our stories. Knowing of his affiliation with The Light Factory Contemporary Museum of Photography and Film, Charles had been on my list of prospective photographers, and several people in Charlotte’s arts community also had suggested I meet with him.
During our meeting, I unfolded my vision of the book and shared notes from a concept paper. Charles held an amused look as I rambled on about what I envisioned and the timeline and the resources and the logistics for making it happen. He expressed his past desire to pursue a similar concept. As we talked further, there was clear alignment of our values and artistic aspirations.
A crucial move, choosing Charles as my photography partner on the project was no doubt divinely inspired. His collaboration has been a God-sent steadying force—from his initial blind faith in my vision to his level-headedness, patience, professionalism and generosity. During the photo shoots, he established a trusting rapport with each person and thus captured telling images. He also was easy about the unexpected twists and turns of the project and the constant stream of ideas coming from me.
Thank you and have a happy birthday Charles!