Photographs by Azim Thomas
Azim Thomas is a man of Harlem. For the last 20 years, he has recorded life in Harlem, documenting the community: its members, icons, and struggles in order to preserve the history of its legacy for future generations. Azim considers his camera his eye on the world. Azim’s photographs have garnered national acclaim. His work is on display in Chicago’s Richard Harris collection, and his photographs have been purchased by serious collectors of African American Art through Swann Auction Gallery in New York. The photographs are the result of a life lived in Harlem and a love of its people.
I recognized the importance of pictures when I realized that I didn’t have pictures to show my children of their grandfather. Photographs are a way of keeping records of your history and ancestry. I began documenting family events, birthday parties and get-togethers. I envision myself as a documentary photographer with the mission to keep our history alive for the future generation. By telling a story with each frame, the photo becomes a time pocket in history. My mission is to preserve African American history and its great legacy by telling our stories through pictures.
The ultimate goal is for the viewer to understand the struggle and the importance of our history. My obsession with documentation has now turned into a calling. I want my photos to tell a story while revealing the essence of what’s in the actual photo. My emotional state of mind, the lighting, the subject matter, composition and the people in the frame have all contributed to the photo’s message to the viewer.
Some of the people in my images have passed on, but not before I captured their physical presence on earth, which nobody can deny. Each image is a thousand words.
My photos have been on display in Chicago’s Richard Harris collection, the Countee Cullen Library, the Schomburg Center for Research, and the New York State Adam Clayton building.