Friday, November 15, 2013

Flo Fox: NY Photographer Worth Seeing

Here's to rad photographer (with a name to fit her sass), Flo Fox, who captures thought-provoking, often humorous images of New York street life in spite of a significant visual impairment, multiple sclerosis, and lung cancer.

If you were in New York recently and saw a purple-haired woman riding around the streets in a motorized wheelchair, camera around her neck, care assistant by her side, chances are you came across Flo Fox. Maybe she stopped in the middle of the street and urged her aide to grab the camera before the opportunity disappeared, describing the shot she wanted as her aide pointed the lens and snapped the photo. Perhaps she was even on a street corner, mixing cement so she could repair New York's broken sidewalks herself, since the city would not. That's her personality—big, audacious, and quirky, just like the city that seems to supply her with unending inspiration.

Fox has always been a little eccentric; she was orphaned as a teenager and ended up hanging out at Studio 54 in the same social crowds as Andy Warhol and photographers Andre Kertesz and Lisette Model. Fox claims she was raised by what would become the main focus of her photography: “I got my education on the streets. That's why I can take naughty photos.”

Fox was born blind in one eye and is now almost completely blind in the other. This early blindness is partly what drew her to photography. Fox says that being born blind in one eye was perfect for photography. She never had to close an eye to take a photo, and she never had to change three dimensions to a flat plane. It made sense, so when she was 26, she used her first paycheck to buy a camera.

Fox still takes photos and exhibits them—she even has permanent collections in both the Smithsonian and the Brooklyn Museum—but now she takes her photographs in a different way. Since her triplegia, caused by MS, makes it impossible for her to hold a camera, Fox instructs her aides to take the photos for her. She says that maybe one in ten turn out exactly as she'd hoped, and others just need cropping here or there. She is happy that she's been able to take so many photos.

“You have to take a look at what you can do with your life to keep your interests going.”

Take a look at this nice mini-documentary and let me know what you think!

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