If I could describe James Hayman’s photos in a single word, it would be “colorful.” And believe it or not, the majority of his images are black and white! Still, figuratively speaking, Hayman’s work bursts with color: it shows true colors of life and of its different sides.
His photojournalist work has taken James Hayman all around the world. And in this article, we bring you some of his exquisite black and white photos.
James Hayman started his career back in the 1970s. After attending The American University for photojournalism, his first assignment was to photograph Nixon and Brezhnev at the 1973 Washington Summit in the White House Rose Garden. However, he was disappointed with the “paparazzi-like frenzy,” which led him to film studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and post-graduate work at New York University. Still, his photojournalistic roots remain visible in his work throughout the years.
“I’ve always been a visual storyteller, interested in other people’s stories,” Hayman says. When he first picked up a camera, he believed that being a photographer meant staying hidden behind the camera and being merely an observer. “As I’ve grown as an artist,” he adds, “I’ve since realized that it doesn’t need to end there, it can be so much more.”
Hayman’s photojournalism and film education worked hand-in-hand to bring him assignments all over the world. He worked for the UN’s disaster relief efforts after the 1976 earthquake in Guatemala and created a few photography series in the region.
The 1980s took Hayman on a different path. He began shooting various independent films in New York City, gaining recognition as the cinematographer for An Autumn’s Tale. This led to him working as a cinematographer in China and Japan. But he didn’t leave photography behind. His life in Asia during the 1980s led to more photographic work documenting this part of the world.
In 1989, Hayman moved to Los Angeles, where he pursued a career in directing and producing TV shows and films. He has directed numerous pilots and episodes of TV series we all know and love. These include Dangerous Minds, Drop Dead Diva, The Sopranos, ER, Law & Order, House, Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, and others. He has also been nominated for two Emmy Awards and a Director’s Guild Award.
In 2014, Hayman moved to New Orleans to run the television show NCIS: New Orleans. This is when he started photographing a series that balances both his eye for humanist cinematography and socio-economic realities. The photographer collaborates with Pack Essentials, providing essential items in New Orleans, and Burnell Grocery’s food program funding in the city’s Lower Ninth Ward. He is also a co-founder of the AllAreOne Fund, which distributes funds around the country to those in need during the pandemic.
“Photography is an interactive experience, an exchange between listener and storyteller,” Hayman explains. “My photography aims to document these moments of exchange and is deeply rooted in the world communities I find myself drawn toward.”
“No matter where I might be, or who I might be speaking with, the construction of narrative is what ultimately leads to a lasting image: a totality of human experience suspended within a single frame.”
While Hayman also uses color in a masterful way, the majority of his photos are black and white. And even though they lack color, they don’t lack vibrancy. Hayman truly manages to suspend “a totality of a human experience in a single frame,” and that’s why his photos will grab your attention and awake your emotions. Enjoy more of James Hayman’s photos below, and make sure to visit his website and Instagram for more of his fantastic work.