Gordon Parks’ earliest work as a professional photographer was shooting fashion for a department store in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was this professional experience that made it possible for him to photograph for local newspapers, prompting Parks to explore and document Chicago’s impoverished South Side. This series of photographs would win him a Rosenwald Fund fellowship in photography, allowing him to work with Roy Stryker’s renowned Farm Security Administration (FSA) team of photographers. When the FSA was absorbed into the Office of War Information (OWI), Parks had the opportunity to photograph the legendary Tuskegee Airmen Fighter Pilots. The combination of Parks’ experience shooting fashion as well as documentary photography informed his style and made him an asset at Life magazine when he joined their staff in 1948. He would continue to work as both fashion photographer and photo documentarian for the rest of his tenure there through the early 1970s.
To view more of his photographic work, follow this link: ARCHIVE