words by respect-mag.com
As any professional photographer, photo editor, graphic designer or writer can attest, a lot of great images and words never make it past the edit rounds of a magazine. There’s just not enough room for everything. Even with the seemingly limitless possibilities and content populating the World Wide Web, there remain scores of visionary moments, enlightening tales and grin-worthy anecdotes that never reach you, the consumer. It’s the way things are.
But it doesn’t have to be the way things will be. Respect is about bringing you what would otherwise be left on the cutting room floor, boxed up in a studio or collecting digital dust on a hard drive. Why? Because we believe beauty is worth seeing.
With this inaugural issue, we bring you rare frames from nine photographers whose work has helped shape not only your visions of hip-hop’s icons, but hip-hop’s view of itself. And, even with this, we’ve had to leave out moving and engaging stories, pristine and iconic shots. There are photographers whose work couldn’t make this issue, just as there are those whom we’ve recently lost— namely Shawn Mortensen, whose most enduring image may very well be the definitive snapshot of Tupac Shakur, in a straitjacket; and the great Irving Penn, who, while not a hip-hop photographer, undoubtedly inspired every lensman in this issue.
Despite our limitations, we believe we’ve done something that’s worthy of your respect and that of the photographers who graciously granted us access to their archives, their memories and some of the secrets behind their techniques. While they all work in the same medium, they’re a varied bunch with unique idiosyncrasies that move through their particular creative waves and empower this issue with fascinating contrast. The incomparable Phil Knott isn’t big on taking photos where eyes are prominent; Barron Claiborne’s stirring, nigh-surrealist shots are almost always all about the eyes. Danny Clinch’s superb take on reality relishes in the candid, unscripted moments; Anthony Mandler’spanoramic imagination leads him to create elaborate fantasy settings that juxtapose subjects with uncommon settings.
What all of the masters in this volume do have in common is a humbling respect for each other and for their subjects. And if there is a single thread throughout their work, it’s a mission to capture the bold and the bewitching, no matter how sublime, and translate it into something you can hold in your hands to open up worlds within yourself.
In that way, they are like the creative staff of this magazine, working to create something you will cherish, something you can respect. This is an offering. We hope you find it worthy.
kris ex, Editor