James Friedman | Dark Places
Posted on April 17, 2012 by Julia Schiller
During my career, I have chosen projects that have required me to visit metaphorically “dark places.” Photographing 12 Nazi Concentration Camps decades after their use was a harrowing journey into places of darkness permeated, still, with the residue of evil and violence.
A specter of darkness loomed as I documented my mother’s torturous demise from having smoked more than a million cigarettes. During her last months she encouraged me to photograph her and our relationship became more gratifying because of the time spent together during those sessions. But, while we derived pleasure from collaborating on 1,029,398 Cigarettes, our enjoyment was bittersweet as we both knew her death was imminent. The photographs my mother allowed me to make are a testament to her fierce bravery that wasn’t enough to prevent her passing at 66.
The photographs from Dark Places were made with an iPhone camera in dark places — inside the pockets of my clothing. Despite being created in such prosaic sites, these pictures satisfy the need for ambiguity, mystery and symbolic darkness in my photography.
James Friedman grew up in Columbus, Ohio and using his family’s Kodak Brownie Hawkeye camera took his first photograph as a five-year old. Of his initial attempts at photography, has said that,
When I looked through the camera’s viewfinder as a child, the world seemed harmonious and balanced and I was hooked for life.
Friedman says he is grateful that he had as his mentors, Minor White and Imogen Cunningham, and has incorporated their profound teachings into his photography and, more importantly, into his life.
Friedman lives in Columbus, Ohio where he is a prolific and award-winning photographer and teacher, offering workshops, mentoring, private instruction and portfolio reviews. He welcomes commissioned projects or other initiatives that may include photography, curatorial work and picture editing.
To view the complete series and more of James Friedman’s work, please visit