One Boy's Story
Photographer Glenn Scarrboro will exhibit early works of 35mm street photography of Danville between 1962 and 1974. Capturing images of people in downtown Danville as they went about their everyday tasks tells a powerful story of the small southern city, the times and its social milieu. The mere fact that Scarboro could take someone’s picture without permission – just point the camera and shoot - and not risk physical danger - demonstrates just how much things have changed in American culture in the last forty-some years. These early photographic experiences also were vital in the formation of Scarboro’s sense of self.
Born in January 1945 in Danville, Scarboro learned to make photographs at 17 years of age when a family friend who was a photographer for the local weekly newspaper asked him to cover an assignment for him. Given the most elementary instructions on how to operate the camera, Scarboro went to the assignment asking people at an awards banquet to arrange themselves and smile. He returned with a full roll of film and great uncertainty. Shortly after making his first photographs Scarboro met Emmet Gowin while dating his sister and beginning to make photographs of her. These photographs were sweet, respectful and represented the discovery of the muse in art and life. Gowen was in the Fine Art Department at Richmond Professional Institute (now Virginia Commonwealth University). He showed Scarboro two photographic books, “The Family of Man” edited by Edward Steichen and the “Decisive Moment” by Cartier Breson. These two books taught Scarboro the potential power a photograph has in expressing feeling-thoughts and beauty
Armed with the basic skills in photography, his early work of Gowen’s sister, and new-found knowledge that making a photograph can be both mystifying and expressive of inner feelings, Scarboro started walking the streets searching for people or interesting places to photograph. This search was never random, as he thought then, but rather was with purpose and intent. His perception had been shaped by family experiences and the inner desire to find a mechanism by which he could explore his identity that was strongly rooted in a pervasive sense of aloneness and which reflected the cultural alienation of the time. Being in the streets of his hometown making photographs in the 1960/70s calmed the beating of his unsettled heart and the feelings of social alienation. The streets of Danville were the places of his earliest identity.
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