Photographs by Richard Freeman
I have been expressing myself through photography since I was twelve years old (I could never draw or paint very well). I received a B.A. in Cinema and Photography from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and upon graduation I began working in commercial photography in San Francisco. In 1986 I quit my job and embarked on a twenty-month backpacking and photographic expedition through Central and South America. I became fascinated, impressed, and awed by the local people with whom I was interacting everyday. I wanted to learn about them, who they were, their histories, their cultures, and Spanish. I was as interested in talking to and learning from them as I was in taking pictures.
When I returned from my travels in Latin America I knew, if nothing else, that I did not want to continue working in commercial photography. After working 60 hours for someone else's creativity I was so fed up by the end of the week I didn't want to pick up my camera. Photography has always been a kind of Zen practice with me. It is spiritual, meditative, and rejuvenative. Something had to change. So, I went to graduate school. With the new found interest I acquired on my recent travels with people and culture, along with my photography, I earned a master's degree in visual anthropology from Temple University in Philadelphia and eventually a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. I did my research in Buenos Aires, Argentina living and working with a group of young political activists for close to two-years (click on the image below-left, "JPSD" to see more). My focus was to try and better understand the processes of how we form our political identities: what influences the way we come to see the world, our place within it, and the actions we then take.
To read more about my philosophies on photography, click on an image below (except "JPSD" which are only photos).
I have been a visiting assistant professor at several colleges and universities, including teaching overseas for a large east coast university. For two semesters I traveled to five different continents with a group of 25 students, living in eight cities for an average of six weeks in each, often staying with local families. While traveling I taught urban anthropology, ethnographic research methods, and urban studies. I was born in Chicago and grew up there and in its environs. Along with my Latin American travels and overseas teaching adventures I have lived on a kibbutz in Israel, hitch-hiked from southern Italy to Sweden, and visited friends in Kenya and traveled there for a summer. I am an avid backpacker.I have lived on both coasts, in the midwest, and traveled throughout the US. I opened and briefly ran a cafe in western New York state, I was an archivist in the Gallery Archives at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and currently I am the anthropology librarian at the University of Florida. I plan on staying here for a while. Throughout my sometimes dis-jointed life my camera has been a constant companion, my Zen.