Thursday, October 27, 2005

The guys from my bank......

So yesterday I gave you some of the Detroit flava... Toronto is something completely different! Toronto gives you the best pride weekend anywhere in North America... The 5 hour parade with over 1 million attending (no lie!), the extensive street closures at Church and Wellesley where multiple stages are set up for various entertainments... And the total uninhibited buy in from the major corporations here in Canada! Seems everyone is in for a piece of the action, Air Canada, Pizza Pizza, KFC...Ha! the chicken and the chilren! So my bank Toronto Dominion "TD" for short has been agressively trying to get people to convert to their checking accounts... Free ipod shuffles for starters... To help the homo inclined they also had some stunning guys to help you make the financial transition easier this year!!! Gotta love the effort! Ok we got some sun today, with more on the way tommorrow... catch you then!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Where Has The Sun Gone?!?!

Ok I know its nearing the end of October but there has not been a ray of sunshine in like a week and a half! I dont mean to complain about all of the cold rain, we had an awesome summer! I'm just not ready for the typical cold Canadian winter repleat with all of the sun deficit fun that comes with it! I'm allready down now, what will I be like when May comes around? OK nuff bitchin.... Tonight I'm posting some pics from the last week in July, or as we like to say it in Detroit "Hotter Than July!"
These pics are from the DBGP-HTJ Picnic in Palmer Park! Mr. Jenkins and crew put on anouther great event! This year they really pored on the entertainment with a dance competition with local and out of state contestants. OK so it wasn't "Rize" But it was a good start and a great place to learn more about the new Cannon 300D I had just bought!

OK Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Taking a Moment

I'm into history of the American struggle to live up to its ideals, todays news of the passing of Rosa Parks had a deep effect on me. My thoughts go back a several years when a group of friends and I had stumbled into the midst of someone's birthday party at the Elwood on Woodward. The party was for Rosa Parks. Being the only other party in the place we were invited to sing along, to wish her Happy Birthday, It was a defining moment in my life.

In 2003 I attended Ford Motor Companys 100th anniversary party in Dearborn, Michigan... Part of my job that weekend
was to be the ambassador for a group of 50 people I worked with in Toronto, as Detroit was my home town. We visted The Henry Ford Mueseum which recenty unvieled the bus Rosa Parks would ride into history. Everyone got a moment to sit in the seat she had occupied, as the mueseum dosant spoke of the place it had in history. I got my moment in the seat... there is a quality to being in a place of history that defies explanation. When my turn was over I moved to sit at the back of the bus for the rest of the tour, I was humbled in the moment and it seemed like the right thing to do.

The following are xcerpts from todays Detroit Free Press and Free Press Blog:

A tiny woman with a quiet voice delivered a message worldwide
October 25, 2005


Her simple action on Dec.1, 1955 -- refusing to give in, to shuffle, to wearily accept that place lower than whites on a social ladder -- might have been her path to glory. But she wasn't after glory. She was after equality. And her simple action was a reminder that revolutions begin in single moments. "Our mistreatment was just not right, and I was tired of it," Parks wrote in her 1994 book "Quiet Strength." "I kept thinking about my mother and my grandparents, and how strong they were," she wrote. "I knew there was a possibility of being mistreated, but an opportunity was being given to me to do what I had asked of others." Her arrest and trial led to a 381-day bus boycott that led to the desegregation of buses and trains across the South. Her name became history when the Supreme Court ruled in 1956 that segregated transportation violated the U.S. Constitution. So many laws violated the constitution in the 1940s and '50s that the Constitution itself lived as a shell of what the Founding Fathers had written.

It took a petite woman of 42 to remind America of what a roomful of men had signed.

As the mother of the civil rights movement, she set the tone for quiet refusal to accept the status quo and her action would pave the way for a nonviolent movement that would elevate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to status as icon. Parks was a complex woman who understood the plight of her race. She had more heart and courage and compassion for the circumstances that have led to the black condition in poor neighborhoods in cities across the country than other black people could admit then or now. That compassion was evident in August 1994, after a would-be young thief attacked her in her own house. In a later account of the incident, she wrote "I pray for this young man and the conditions in our country that have made him this way."
I can't forget her concern for that young man. I love her ability to see the place that birthed his anger. Rosa Parks helped change the world in a quiet moment nearly 50 years ago. But her revolution hasn't ended. Her greatest legacy can be found in the minds of young teens who don't know the names Julian Bond and Andrew Young, who barely know Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman. But they know Rosa Parks. Rosa was synonymous with freedom.

Freedom has become such an all-encompassing word that covers an ideal greater for the whole than is greater than the one. But in the 1950s and '60s, black Americans counted their freedoms in the daily things they could not do because of the color of their skin: use the nearest bathroom, sit at a lunch counter, drink from a "white" water fountain, shop in a lovely store, attend a good school. When Rosa Parks refused to stand, she actually stood for a shift in the movement, which rose to another level from that quiet moment.

Every warrior who fought for change, who struggled for all people to be treated the same, deserves a place in history, deserves to have their name remembered. Rosa Parks didn't find a place in history. She created one. She became that moment. Where have all our flowers gone? Where are the Rosa Parkses who can refuse continued bigotry and discrimination now?

Colin L. Powell: 'America has lost a great lady' Posted 12:50 p.m.

"America has lost a great lady and a great fighter for freedom. All of us who have benefited from the civil rights revolution owe her a debt of gratitude. By sitting on a bus she forced America to look at itself and realize it was an ugly picture that needed to change. Change came slowly, but it would not have come at all without her singular act of courage. We must continue to seek equality for all Americans if we are to be faithful to the legacy of Rosa Parks."
-- Colin L. Powell, former Secretary of State

Museum to drape historic bus in black Posted 8:49 a.m.

The Henry Ford is celebrating the legacy of Rosa Parks by draping in black crepe the 36-passenger bus on which Parks began the civil rights movement. The Montgomery, Ala., bus where the civil rights pioneer refused to give up her seat to a white man in 1955 will sit in The Henry Ford's center plaza with the black crepe, said William Pretzer, curator of political history.
"We invite people to come in, take a seat on the bus, and then we make a presentation about an extraordinary event on a very ordinary bus," said Pretzer, who was instrumental in acquiring the run-down bus for $492,000 in 2001. The General Motors bus, made with tens of thousands of others in Pontiac, was restored with a $300,000 federal grant by using parts from other 1948 buses.

Monday, October 24, 2005

More From the 15th Street Station in Detroit

Got alot of positive responces back from my last two posts so I am posting a few different sets of images I have taken at the the old Michigan Central Station. I wont go into detail on the models in this post as I will be returning to the important people in my images in the next couple posts. With that said many of these images were captured using my trusty Pentax Zoom 90 WR, the best camera $350.00 could buy ever. I love the metering program in this camera, it just deals with bright natural light in surprising and interesting ways... It has gotten to the point where I know how the image will turn out... I can expect the same performance everytime! I recently sent it back to the factory for a refurbish, theough Henrey's in Toronto. $175.00 additional dollars to fix a rewind wheel and refurbish and clean the camera was money well spent. It still shines as prominent piece in my collection.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Perfection Amidst the Chaos

The back side of a romance is usually not a good place to be. The old saying that “people are in your life for season or a reason or for life” was never a truer concept with Aaron. Aaron was both younger in age and older in experience compared to me, our relationship together lasted more than four years. It was my first long term relationship and I am happy to say, lasts through to this day with a strong friendship, I guess I can say in this case for a reason and for life! I recently reposted these pictures into my photoblog as I honed a newer technique for replicating a softer sepia tone than I have used in the past. Re-working the images brought back some thoughts of the day we took them. Aaron was quite excited to have his picture taken if not a little perturbed that I had not asked him before. I had not taken these or many others like them while we were together and I remember in that session of being in a different place than I normally am when taking pictures, it was more comfortable than most sessions and we worked together with more of a special agreement than other models. It may come as a surprise to most that I don’t have intimate relationships with many of my models, one because some are straight and two because there is a positive tension involved when there hasn’t been that closeness. As a note to location, these images were taken at the old 15th street Michigan Central Train Station (Think Union Station in NY or Toronto) Large and very opulent building from a by-gone era, left gutted of anything valuable, to rot. This sometimes home to the homeless had an unlimited pallet of backgrounds from which to shoot privately… But more than that, the decay of the building created a new kind of contrast for me to use, the image of the human body’s seamless perfection against the sometimes chaotic backdrop of an old yet elegant building. I’m sure I could make other analogies but Ill save them for future installments.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Summer of 1992

While there are so many influential people in my photographic development, there are just a few who I can say helped me as a person in the process. Jerris Madison is one of those who believed in my work and me early on. It’s now the early 90’s and I met Jerris through one of his roommates I was dating at the time. Jerris was living in Detroit’s West Village off Van Dyke and Jefferson with two other roommates. Walking into his personal space you could clearly see that he had a sense of style, knowing him you also got the sense he would have a bigger future than one Detroit could provide.

The pictures in this entry were taken in a little used park just west of the Ambassador Bridge in southwest Detroit. The neighborhood was a conflux of rail hub and automotive industrial parts makers, very Motown. One of the tenants to my photography style was getting the model to pose them selves in ways they had envisioned. Not into the classical/rigid style of Mapplethorpe, it was my hope to capture the essence of each person I would photograph.

Jerris was someone I gave little or no input to he chose his own wardrobe, did his own make-up, and devised his own posses. It was up to me to hit the right moment to capture in each shot. Jerris was clearly interested in the photographic image and it was not surprising to see a camera in his hands a few years later. Since moving to Atlanta he has made a name for himself in photography and other creative outlets. He has a clear and recognizable style, which I often pick out when I see his images on the net.

It was his confidence in my work, which kept me motivated towards my goals as photographer and I truly love him for that.

Jerris work can be seen at: and soon at

Again to see more of my work you can go to:

Saturday, October 08, 2005

My First Muse!

The photography really took hold with when a friend, Rashien asked me to take his pictures. The year was 1988 and it was an interesting time for me on a number of levels. I met Rachien through an old boyfriend and was immediately taken by him on a number of levels. I was just then starting to go to the clubs and Rashien had taken me under his wing when it came to hit the black clubs. Bookies, Shoppers, the Continental and Zippers to name just a few. Not only did he take me out, he made me feel at home and being one of the more popular guys, he introduced me to many of the friends I have to this day.

As popular as he was he tended to be a bit of a rolling stone and may not have had the best reputation on the street, of course drama in the life is part of the everyday. I knew about this yet never had any experience with it, he was my friend and always treated me with a kind of respect, like a big brother. He introduced me to the life and I filled in as a big brother/mentor.

Rashien was considered a hot item in the club, being in his crew it moved me quickly into a large social circle. He loved his pictures and showed them to many of his friends, who asked for photos of their own. To say I have been taking pics ever since is an understatement as I have never advertised for a model or really walked up to someone and offered to take their picture. I feel quite blessed to have worked through nearly 20 years of “word of mouth” photography. It was 1996 the last time I saw him. He had moved to Columbia S.C. and his vist back to Detroit had been for a funeral. He made a special effort to see me as we had gotten quite close. There was a sadness when we parted that day. We had spent so much time together and it seemed I would never see him again. I still hold hope that I will again someday!

I will be writing future installments about key individuals who clearly moved me forward in my photography.
To see more you can find my photographs at:

Friday, October 07, 2005

First Came The Paintings.....

Sometime around 1987 I began to paint portraits using a linen surface crescent board and water-soluble dies. I loved the intense colors of these dies and the ability to layer them on to the board like watercolors. The dyes were transparent and it allowed me to slowly build up the image layer by layer until I began to achieve the ones and highlights in the skin. At first I took pictures from books and magazines, which I thought were compelling images… often black and white images I would re-imagine in full color.

My favorite was Interview Magazine… In the mid to late 80’s interview would introduce me to new and upcoming artists and photographers, Mapplethorpe, Ritts to name a few. Mapplethorpe images were compelling to look at but were devoid of any kind of life as most if not all were in B&W. Here you can see I choose images of Thomas and Dennis from one of Mapplethorpe’s books. The triplet boxers Floyd, Lloyd and Troy was a favorite Herb Ritts image, which while B&W seemed much more interesting in bright yellow silk Everlast boxing shorts and red gloves!

I soon began to take my own images to create paintings of my friends, using Polaroid or 35mm at first just to get the pose I was looking for. I really didn’t care about lighting at first just the set up of the image I was going to paint. Eventually I became more attracted to the photograph as I shot more I started getting better results and the images had a larger variety and the results were more immediate. Many of these paintings have never been finished, and from time to time I pick up the brush and work on them. For now it’s still the photograph I find most appealing!

Sunday, October 02, 2005


Finally getting to the final cut of images for my book Fierce! The following is an excerpt from the books preface writen by Curtis Lipscomb, Exsecutive Director of Kick – The Agency for L-G-B-T African-Americans in Detroit. I worked with Curtis in one of the first outlets for my images was for The Motivator, a monthly news letter for Detroits Men of Color Motivational Group. The work carried over to Curtis's Kick magazine.

"What Chris has done with this important collection of images, Fierce: Being Black, Being Gay in America, A Photographic Essay, is to seek, lift, and affirm the identity and visibility of men-who loved-men and express it in many ways. His photographs display Midwest American men from the outlandish and flamboyant, to the subdued and subtle. You’d think these were “ladies who lunch;” muscular men dressed for the “Park” in lace, and floppy hats to give effect for all to see. Brothers connecting in places we know are safe, such as our nightclubs, the discos, and special events targeting our interests.

Friends are captured as they share a laugh together. At the “Show,” young men, who are infatuated with their appearances, strike a pose, for the sake of drama. The House of Charles members give face backstage at a ball. The members are captured with their excitement, youth, and ovah-ness. At the “Show,” exotic male dancer, a fixture in our community, becomes more than just a sexual idol, he becomes a whimsical teaser to the camera, and let’s the viewers have a sneak peak at his moneymaker. Gleeful members of Men of Color lend their brown and black physiques (including my own) to charity at the defunct Body Auction fundraiser. “Bois” are casually seen in their happy times, (such as me and my honey Willie), while others are pictured in relationships long forgotten. Take another look and you’ll simply see us enjoying ourselves and having a good time, openly and lovingly.

The importance of Fierce is paramount: all men are created equal, and share a space on earth. These portraits of men have to be recognized as God’s beauty and not His damnation. Time will thank those who were strong and dared enough to express themselves for all to see and appreciate in a manner that’s loving and creative. Time will also thank us for not living in a paranoid state of mind, and afraid of our own shadows. Remember, this cluster of work isn’t Robert Mappelthope’s approach to black imagery, but the approach of documenting men as they wanted to be seen: with and without sexual stimulation, for shock value.

Photography has become the evidence of things seen while faith is the evidence of things not seen. Our modern history in the age of film has helped create our destiny while accurately reflecting our past. Film helps put our perspective in order. Film allows us to be visible and exposed. The relationship between the photographer and subject should be of trust and honesty. The success of Kick Magazine and other same-gender-loving publications was based upon these two well-defined words. By the time the annual, gay pride celebration, Hotter Than July!, was established, there had already been a feeling of security for the black, gay, bi, and transgender male to be photographed and studied in one of our own environments. Lined with rocks, trees, bushes, and streetlights, Lake St. Francis in Palmer Park was the perfect stage and backdrop of many of Chris’ works. The Motor City is my home, and I’m proud of it. Our city, the true renaissance for the early 20th century, southern Negro, has been the blessing for the advancement of colored folks. GQ Magazine once featured the style of Detroit’s black men to be as vivid as a peacock’s tail, and cocky as a bull. There is no other place in America where black men are proud to wear suits colored from a box of Crayola crayons, and in no other region can men be as colorful and as Fierce as they are here. This collection will evoke discussions throughout America’s urban centers and bible belts, as it should. These images of men who intimately love men will cause many to be informed that you are not alone. The African-American experience is vast. Catch it and learn.

I love the male form, particularly the black male form. So does Chris."

Curtis A. Lipscomb
Executive Director Kick – The Agency for L-G-B-T African-Americans
Detroit Michigan / 2005

Saturday, October 01, 2005

End of Summer

Welcome to my second entry.... Am still working away at the new photo/blog. I just updated with three new pictures of JR from a couple weekends ago! You will notice that the third photo just uploaded, looks allot like a previous photograph I took of JR. So what is the difference you ask... About 5 mega-pixels! I so loved the first version, as it was caught a great moment. But I took it with my little Canon Elf S100, which was pretty low resolution, therefore nearly un-reproducible! Well I was able to get JR over to try and reproduce the image with my newer, higher resolution camera (Canon 300D, sorry I refuse to say Rebel!) The results were not dead on as I had hoped, perhaps moments in time just can't be reproduced!?! none the less, still a great photo un-to-itself!

As the warm summer of 2005 comes to a close, things are finally reaching some momentum with my photography, most importantly I'm working to be part of a photography show at a West Queen Street gallery in October! My first since immigrating to Canada 8 years ago. Don't have a date in October yet but am beginning to pick out the images I want to show!

Stay tuned!