Adv photo – photographer Deborah Willis and Hank Willis Thomas


Read the interview of photographer and historian Deborah Willis:


…..look at the link of her work,


(go to portfolio drop down menu and then to photographs)



2 responses »

  1. 1) I liked her idea that beauty is the experiences people have and that it’s goodness. Also that she thinks it reflects a persons attitude and sense of style is interesting. I do think that’s what you want to capture in a photograph but it isn’t beauty– she’s misrepresenting beauty as something better than it really is

    2) I didn’t really like her photographs on the website. I thought one or two were good-ish, but others had no formal elements at all and, although the subject matter was supposed to be powerful, it was not good photography. She doesn’t have good lighting and many of her colored photos should have been black and white. In the article we read, which was all black and white and all personal, I really did like the photographs–they showed emotions, pride, and beauty.

    3) I liked Hans Miller. His photos “Bearing Witness: Murder’s Wake were both beautiful, personal, and expressive. Many of his photos seem too staged though. For example, I loved his Branded (candid), but his “Smokin’ Joe Ain’t Jemama” looked like it was meant to be a joke, and I really didn’t like it.

    4) They use the same themes and try to capture emotions. They both focus on portraits, for the most part. I think they also have similar informal styles. She uses more black and white, though and focuses on women.

  2. 1. Willis interprets beauty not as a societal standard, but as goodness and personal attitude. In the context of photography this manifests as a focus on the authentic, and authentic photos make the most powerful images.
    2. Willis’s Photographs do not strike me as anything extraordinary. The picture she has taken for magazines do not have a conceptual quality that sets them apart and her images of people on the street seem imbalanced and superficial. The pictures in the interview however, such as the children sitting on the car are intriguing, and seem like they are part of a larger dialog.
    3. The work of Hank Wills focuses on reawakening criticism to circumstances that we as a society have become numb to. His photos are powerful in that they show a personal story of his family dealing with murder, but show a light hearted side like in his birth story project.
    4. The mother/son duo are similar in that they explore the black experience through photos. Dissimilar as Hank Wills said it, “I basically tried to focus on doing what my mother did, but trying to focus on the male experience. Really trying to complete or be in conversation with her work.”

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