Raymond W Holman Jr is one of the artists featured in PL130 Gallery's photography show Off Topic, a photo show about the unassigned work of photojournalists who worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News since the 80s. This week we caught up with Raymond to learn more about his work and experience.
How did you make your way into becoming a photojournalist?
Photography was a hobby that turned into a career when I started working as a freelance photographer for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News in 1989.
Do you describe yourself as an artist, photographer, or photojournalist?
In recent years I have started to think of myself as an artist vs a photojournalist.
In what years did you work for the Philadelphia Inquirer or Daily News?
From 1989 until roughly 2009, then I started doing assignments for the Philadelphia about four years ago.
Do you have a favorite story from an assignment?
In 2008 I had the opportunity to capture a great image of President Obama when he was on the campaign trail in Philadelphia. In December of the same year I had the opportunity to show the 16 by 20 inch giclee print to President Obama, he looked at the print, I know the way he responded to it, it caught him off guard. He than signed it for me. It is a beautiful image, different from the way he was normally pictured in publications.
In what ways is photographing on assignment different from personal editorial work?
I find working for local publications like the Inquirer different from shooting for publications outside of Philadelphia. You tend to get more time to work on your images outside of Philadelphia. Editorial assignments from publications outside of Philadelphia I always take lights so I can create a more refined portrait, because that is what publications like the New York Time, Washington Post and Politico want. And those are the type of images my Soul wants to Create. The bottom line is it doesn’t matter what I am working on my Soul is always hundred percent engaged.
What are some subjects and themes that you are drawn to photographing? Is there a specific theme that you keep returning to?
I worked and a personal project “Portraits of Family Caregivers for with Alzheimer’s/dementia” for ten years. For the past two years I have been working on a personal project “Covid-19 in Black America”, so I guess you could say I am attracted to the Human experience of living on planet Earth.
Who on Instagram do you follow that you really admire?
Eric Mencher among others. Eric’s work is very interesting to be.
What piece of advice would you give to a young photographer who is interested in photojournalism?
No matter what field of photography they have an interest in approach it the same way, a person approaches becoming a doctor, engineer or any other demanding career. Give everything you have to it, and make the every best contacts you can. Learn the business of photography, after a few years go back and get a master’s degree. As a person of color I say, it is the only way to approach it. At the end of the day photography is an art form and you want to surround yourself with people who understand the value of the created image, and the energy it requires to be creative.