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A Dangerously Curious Eye: The Edge of San Francisco, Barry Shapiro 1972 To 1982

Overview

Far from the bridges and cable cars, hidden away behind the famous hills, there is another San Francisco Bay Area that most people never see. San Francisco's Hunter's Point and Fillmore District, West Oakland and Richmond's Iron Triangle - in the 1970s these places on the edges of this great American metropolis offered Barry Shapiro an alternate reality where he pointed his lens.

Although Barry made his reputation as a professional photographer with the 1972 publication of ...

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Overview

Far from the bridges and cable cars, hidden away behind the famous hills, there is another San Francisco Bay Area that most people never see. San Francisco's Hunter's Point and Fillmore District, West Oakland and Richmond's Iron Triangle - in the 1970s these places on the edges of this great American metropolis offered Barry Shapiro an alternate reality where he pointed his lens.

Although Barry made his reputation as a professional photographer with the 1972 publication of Handmade Houses: The Woodbutcher's Art, his day job as a teacher of remedial reading to adults gave him an entrée into a world that white America only saw in the blaxploitation films of the day like "Shaft” and "Superfly.” His curious eye brought him to many dangerous places, but with the trust he earned, he was able to not only hang out in this unique subculture, but be allowed to photograph their very intimate and sometimes dark moments. In these photos we see glimpses of tenderness that can explode into violence, tension that dissolves into laughter, kids showing off for the camera, and tough motorcycle gangs chilled out after a night of hard partying. What instantly captures the viewer's attention is that Barry, with the force of his energetic personality, established a trusting relationship with each of his subjects, whether that relationship lasted for years or only a few seconds.

When Barry wasn't hanging out in these fringe neighborhoods, he was prowling the streets of the Bay Area with his stealth Leica shooting poignant black-and-white moments of street life through the windows of his VW bus. These images record an incredible slice of everyday urban life without any hint of his even being there. Barry captured what Henri Cartier-Bresson called "the decisive moment” over and over with a natural ability that only the best photographers have.

Always a maverick, rarely inclined to shoot to spec and unwilling to compromise or cater to photographic fashion, Barry shot his black-and-white photographs with no thoughts of commercialism. Although his career as a photographer spanned more than forty years, and he spent the last sixteen years of his life as a high-school teacher and principal, he never stopped shooting.

With a foreword by famed San Francisco rock photographer Jim Marshall and an introduction by best-selling novelist Mark Joseph, two of Barry's closest friends, A Dangerously Curious Eye will show you a very different side of the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780979331497
  • Publisher: Rock Out Books
  • Publication date: 10/15/2010
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 12.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Barry Shapiro was born in 1943, and passed away in 2009. He acquired his first camera by barter in 1966 and never stopped shooting. Barry rarely accepted commercial jobs, but his body of work included stills for independent films, a few how-to gardening books, and fashion work for a few local designers. With author Art Boericke, he published Handmade Houses: the Woodbutcher's Art in 1972, followed by two sequels, and in 1980 Forbidden Fantasies: Men Who Dare to Dress in Drag. Barry spent the last sixteen years of his life as a high-school teacher and principal in the Bay Area.

Mark Joseph was born in Vallejo, California, and still lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Mark is the former editor of The New Deep City Press and Frisco Magazine and the author of five novels published in nineteen languages, including the New York Times bestseller, To Kill the Potemkin. In 1980 he authored Forbidden Fantasies: Men Who Dare to Dress in Drag with photographers Barry Shapiro and Mike Phillips. He has edited many books and taught writing seminars and is currently working on a new novel set in San Francisco.

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