Growing up in the 70s and 80s, Alfred Haymond was surrounded by comic books, skateboards, and magazines like Ebony, LIFE, and National Geographic. It was these magazines that sparked his interest in photography.
As a graduation gift, his mother gave him a camera kit, which he used to capture the world around him.
“Being a child of the 70s and 80s, growing up in an era long before cell phones, high-definition TV, and the Internet, we had comic books, skateboards, bicycles, Soul Train, and Saturday morning cartoons. I remember my mother giving me a camera kit when I graduated high school. It was quite a leap from the Instamatic Polaroids and pocket cameras with those flash cubes I was used to,” Haymond told Pasadena Now.
“We also had lots of magazines around the house such as Jet, Ebony, LIFE, and National Geographic. I was fascinated by the pictures I saw in them and figured I could do the same.”
An accomplished photographer, writer, and musicologist with a body of work spanning over three decades, Haymond has come a long way from his high school camera kit.
Currently, Haymond is the photographer and curator of the seventh edition of the annual “Observations in Black” photography exhibition in Pasadena.
“Whether you’ve been to a previous exhibit of mine or are seeing the images for the very first time, the experience is different and going to be unique for everyone. It is my sincere hope that what people see – will challenge some, inspire others, and leave an impression on all who attend that will make this an annual event that people will look forward to for many years to come,” Haymond said about the exhibit.
The photography exhibit is at the Hasting Branch Library with a reception scheduled on Thursday, February 9th at 6 p.m.
“Every year during Black History Month, Pasadena plays host to “Observations in Black,” displaying a collection of images relative to the San Gabriel Valley area that chronicle the presence, resiliency, and greatness of its people of color in the community. In conjunction with the 41st Pasadena Black History Parade, the 2023 exhibit continues showcasing a variety of black-and-white images that celebrate and illuminate the African American experience.
“Observations in Black” aims to capture, document, and preserve these stories for posterity,” a release about the photography exhibit read.
Black History Month holds great significance for Haymond, as it is a time to recognize and celebrate the achievements of the African American community, and to work together to address the inequities that continue to divide the culture.
“In an era where there is so much disparaging news and events going on across the nation, around the globe and right here in our own backyard, it’s important that we try understanding our own condition and that we dialog with others to work together,” Haymond added.
For Haymond, the African American community in Pasadena has been a major source of inspiration for his work as a photographer.
“Great or small, and regardless of your station in life, each of us has a unique story to tell. For me, merely looking into the faces of our African American community provides an endless source of ideas, inspiration, and opportunities to bring these stories to the forefront by way of my photography.”
Originally from Los Angeles, Haymond has established himself as an accomplished photographer, writer and musicologist.
The assortment of images currently on display at Hastings Branch Library is what Haymond commonly refers to as “Observational Photography… finding those mundane occurrences happening all around that we seldom take notice of, and visually documenting them.”
He draws inspiration from iconic greats of the past, the likes of Gordon Parks, Vivian Maier and Arthur “WeeGee” Fellig.
The “Observations in Black” exhibit started in 2016 with a collection of 25 final images that were whittled down from an initial assortment of over 700. It has since been a regular part of the celebration of Black History Month, seeking to recognize humanity, dignity, and perseverance through the eyes and expressions of its African American community in the greater Pasadena and Altadena area.
“I had already been living in the area several years and on occasion would check out the various events that were scheduled during Black History Month and noticed that photography was markedly absent from the itinerary,” Haymond told LA Sentinel recently. “I did a little reconnaissance with local organizations, committees, and people within the community. I figured I could put something together artistically that might spark some interest and at the same time have credibility and longevity.”
Haymond already had hundreds of assorted photographs collected over the years and decided a public exhibit would be an ideal situation to present them.
“It was never a question of ‘can I do this or not?’ It was more a realization of ‘I’ve found my lane, no one is in my way, and I should run with it!’” he said.
Haymond, who considers himself a self-taught photographer, maintains a website, www.observationalphotography.com, where he advertises his services – iconic photography, pictorials and design – and features “Observations in Black” along with works by other Los Angeles-based photographers.
He’s also on Facebook and Instagram, and can be reached directly @alfredhaymond.