- Posted June 28, 2014 by
Los Angeles, California
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THE LIFE OF PHOTOGRAPHER HENRY WALTON
Henry Walton is a photographer-journalist who perused his interest in photography documenting the Civil Rights and Black Panthers movement beginning in the early 1960s. He has a special eye for civil unrest and is widely interested in the humanities since the 1950s.
On June 12, 2014 Walton received an Honorary Degree from Los Angeles City College, a college he attended as a photography student in the 1960s. Mr Walton earned an Associates of Arts in Political Science from Los Angeles Valley College. A Bachelor's degree in Business from Springfield College and a Master's degree in Community Psychology from Springfield College.
Part two of the interview focuses on Walton's life long journey documenting Civil Rights in Los Angeles.
What made you want to become a photographer? Is there a pivotal moment that you remember?
Henry - When I was eight years old my sister gave me a camera for my birthday. It was a simple box camera, an Ansco Shur-shot. It included a roll of 120 film. I took it outside and shot some pictures of the kids in the neighborhood. I finished the roll and took it to the local drug store to have it processed. When I got the pictures back, about a week later I was mesmerized. I thought, “This is magic.” I was hooked at that moment and I have seldom been without a camera since that day.
What is the uniqueness that you see through a camera lens that makes that picture come to life?
Henry - Actually, I don’t think the camera lens makes the picture come to life. I think the photographer and camera record the life that is already there. By isolating and freezing a piece of the whole we are able to see the uniqueness in which we are always immersed. Photography is a method of representing reality, beauty, history, emotion, fear, hate and everything we can see, feel, or visually imagine. It is not truly real, but it is a bookmark in reality that gives us a special opportunity to slow down and take a good look at our inner self interpreting the outer realities of existence.
You are also a celebrated journalist, a writer and a broadcaster? What is your favorite venue of expression and teaching tool?
Henry - Communication is so complex we need all the forms in order to try and convey our thoughts, dreams, hopes, fears, ambitions, and feelings. My favorite is what ever works at the time. However, I know that it is true, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, therefore, I lean to photography for some of my deepest emotional communication.
What are you working on now? (Radio, film, journalism and photography)
Henry - I am working on an ongoing project that is an extension of the work I did in the 1960’s and ’70’s. I am revisiting some of the places and maybe some faces of the that time in this time. It is kind of a Then and Now project. Plus I am working on a novel, that is a fictionalized version the things I experienced growing up in South Central. I am also working on the radio special that you and I and the UCLA Labor Center Communication team will be presenting on KPFK regarding the state of mental health in L. A. in particular and spanning out to the nation. I have been told that the Collegian Magazine, at Los Angeles City College will be doing a story about my 50 year trek through the two year college, but I am not writing that one.
Do you have any plans to publish your “complete works” in book form?
Maybe, that is a possibility for the future, but I can’t take that on right now. My plate is full.
In the attached video Walton speaks about the impact of his life-long passion for photography at Los Angeles City College where his work has been widely exhibited.