Wed June 16th
Hasain Rasheed is a photojournalist living in West Oakland and active throughout Oakland, the Bay Area, and the nation. His artistic practices include aspects of storytelling and documentation through photography. Though a portrait photographer in the traditional sense, he also tells stories by documenting programs and community projects as well as the lives of community members. As a resident of West Oakland, Hasain is passionate about the changes taking place and how those changes affect the people living there. There is a desperate need to hold tight to existing places and spaces, and Hasain’s photos show exactly why.
His interest in photography began as a young child inspired by nature shows and flipping through National Geographic magazines. Meanwhile, his parents influenced him to think actively about the civil rights movement. More traditional though, they weren’t fully supportive of his hope to pursue an arts education, so he made his own way. Instead, he first went to school for biology in the Virgin Islands and later pursued an art education and his artist practice. He never forgot where he came from though, and those influences have always affected his path.
Early on, Hasain worked as a video editing intern in television news, then as a photography intern at local papers, before finally becoming a freelancer. Today, he works with educational institutions, non-profit and community-based organizations, and civic agencies to tell the stories of the communities they represent.
Hasain works primarily in Oakland and in other communities with large populations of people of color. With his work, he hopes to convey both the pride and belonging of the people he photographs. One major aspect of his work as a photographer is representing reality; he is committed to respecting the people and places he photographs. As a part of this, he never retouches his photojournalistic images after taking them.
Inspired by the racial, social, and economic diversity of Oakland – the strength of the community and the striking effects of change to different physical environments – Hasain uses his work to examine how people hold onto traditions and culture during change.
“I hope that the larger impact of my work on my community is both bringing attention to the larger issues of our time, including shedding light on the often forgotten faces and places. Over time, I hope my work stands as historical documentation of the people, places, and stories I was fortunate to document here in Oakland and beyond.”
As a photojournalist, Hasain has been able to discover and document the stories of Black farmers and Black cowboys in America. As an example of often forgotten faces, Black cowboys were always more present, and more involved in cowboy life than Western film and canon made them out to be. By photographing the images of working Black cowboys, he is redefining the narratives and revealing not just the history of this legacy but its present impact as well.
And, as life and art are complicated, this story holds more for Hasain. He fondly remembers the man who taught him about the legacy of Black cowboys and held a mentorship program to teach young people about this history. The gentleman passed away this past year. Hasain wants to continue his story by following these same young people as they honor this man and this complicated piece of Black history.
Hasain’s future plans involve incorporating larger format photography and alternative mixed media processes into his work to continue to document stories about the Black and Brown community here in Oakland and beyond and to tell the story of environmental impacts in these communities over time.
Hasain’s work in Oakland right now includes an examination of homelessness in Alameda county, in partnership with Alameda County Health Services. Shown in theTRUST Clinic in Oakland, his portraits record the paths that different individuals have taken. He was able to talk to the people, understand their stories, and honor their lives through his images. He also works in encampments in West Oakland and Downtown Oakland, and he values the true connections he makes with residents while documenting their stories.
“I’m hoping that people stop [when they see the photos] and think about everything that is going on in that moment.”
With the privilege of documenting the stories of people who are too often invisible, comes incredible responsibility. More than his work being considered artistic, Hasain wants to make sure that his images are compelling and provide dignity to the people whose images he captures.