Photography: David Scheinbaum
Since 2000 David Scheinbaum has photographed more than a hundred hip hop performers, both in concert and backstage. His black-and-white images present a nuanced and ultimately uplifting picture of this creative tradition. Scheinbaum has explained, “I am trying to give the viewers both a visual feel for the music and the musicians, a feel for the audience and crowd, and to give a face, an identity, to the many dedicated artists who perform this music and poetry.” Scheinbaum has more than thirty years’ experience as a photographer, a teacher, and an art dealer. While serving as an art professor at the College of Santa Fe, he has published five books of his photographs. Scheinbaum’s portraits are a celebration of hip hop and serve to demonstrate that the negative stereotypes regarding hip hop represent only a small part of its larger significance.
Arist's Statement: David Scheinbaum
My introduction to hip hop began not as a photographer, but as a parent. In 2000, my son Zac and a group of his thirteen-year-old peers persuaded me to drive them seventy miles to Albuquerque to see a concert by Del, Tha Funkee Homosapien. I will never forget what I observed that night sitting at the back of the Sunshine Theater. I watched as hundreds of young adults of various backgrounds and cultures melded together, getting along and being respectful of one another.
Having grown up in the 1960s, music was a large part of my identity and lifestyle. My appearance, my friends, my speech, and my politics all were an extension of the music. This was the first time since Woodstock that I had seen a community equally as bonded and identified through music. One concert led to others, and I started getting phone calls from the parents of some of Zac’s friends, inundating me with questions about hip hop.
Being an outsider myself, all I was able to share was my own experience and impressions. This situation motivated me to use my camera to try and show the positive aspects of hip hop. The artists and fans that I have worked with exemplify a high aesthetic and civic standard. It is “the image” of this movement that I hope to affect through my photographs. Also, of note, I owe a debt of gratitude to the work of Roy DeCarava, whose jazz portraits served as inspiration for the visualization and crafting of these images.