Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

Fiction in photography and the accidental truth

Nov 23, 2018 - Alex Christopher Williams

I made this photograph a year and a half later after photographing the man at the water fountain. By this point, I had become less interested in photographing men in my father’s likeness and, instead, had become more interested in photographing boys in the age range where I was the closest to my father. In general, I don’t tend to previsualize my photographs before making them; they are always a product of the circumstance and the person I’m photographing. This boy was my neighbor, and I had photographed him many times at this point. During this time, I asked him to lean on the tree and to look at me. Later I would be surprised by how strikingly similar he looked to someone being arrested. It reverberated a lot of what is happening in the news of young black boys all over America who are being shot and killed by police.


In my statement, I talk about this wondering about how my life would have been different if I looked more like my father. The truth of this picture is that this boy is just leaning on a tree. But there is something to the innocence of his willingness in stark contrast to the bold implications of his submissive pose that leads me down a path of how my innocence as a young boy was never challenged; at least not like many young boys today. I pass as white, due to my lighter skin, and this passing was the lens in which I saw this boy utterly unaware of his predicament in the larger scale of American social politics.