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Photographer, friend and fellow San Franciscoer Robert Gumpert will be exhibiting at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California from January 25th to March 15th.

On show will be photographs from two projects — Gumpert’s ongoing Take A Picture, Tell A Story, and images from “I Need Some Deodorant. My Skin Is Getting Restless” which were made between 1996 and 2002 at the Alameda County’s Psychiatric Emergency Services at John George, Oakland. In both bodies of work, Gumpert uses oral history (audio and text interviews) to add description, depth and context to the experiences of his subjects.

If you’re in the Bay Area, I strongly recommend a trip through the Caldecott Tunnel out to Moraga.I’ve long been an admirer of Gumpert’s work, specifically Take A Picture, Tell A Story which is part of my curated effort Prison Obscura.

Prior to the public reception on January 25th, will be an hour long panel discussion with Gumpert; architect/activist Raphael Sperry; and psychologist/authority on solitary confinement Terry Kupers.

Click on the flier below to see it larger and glean all the critical information.

Robert Gumpert

Tameika Smith-032 copy

Tameika Smith, San Francisco, CA. SF CJ2. 9 July 2012.
Take A Picture
Deborah Lee Worledge, San Francisco, CA. CJ1 Men’s jail. 4 April 2008.

Take A Picture

Michael Johnson, San Bruno, CA. CJ5.

A few months ago Bob Gumpert and I sat down and talked at length about the reasons why photographers should endeavour to tell the stories of social movements, workers rights, crime, justice and injustice. The conversation rolled and rolled which partly explains why the edited interview hasn’t surfaced yet.

Bob’s activism emerged in the Labor Movement of the 1970s. He began documenting the criminal justice system by following police officers and public defenders in the San Francisco Bay Area. From there he traversed to tell the stories of people in the jail and probation systems.

This morning I received this email:

As some of you know, since 1994 I’ve been documenting the criminal justice system. There is now a website for the latest segment of “Lost Promise: The Criminal Justice System.”

“Take A Picture, Tell A Story” is where you can find portraits and recorded stories from the two major projects of my 35 years in documentary photography.  In “Locked and Found” prisoners in the county jails of San Francisco tell stories of their circumstances, hopes and sorrows.  In “Tales of Work” workers tell of their lives and their jobs.


So don’t wait for my interview to familiarise yourself with Bob’s work. Listen to the tales he’s recorded – they reflect the complexities that rattle about in an inevitably inflexible system that deals with hundreds of thousands of individuals.


prisonphotography [at] gmail [dot] com


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