Exploring the LGBTQ community with Saul Bromberger and Sandra Hoover

We had the pleasure of talking with local photographers – Saul Bromberger and Sandra Hoover – about their work and the LGBTQ community.

Saul and Sandra have been deeply involved with the LGBTQ moment since they first shot it back in the 1980's. This body of work has grown immensely over the years and became the focus of both of their careers. 

Their ultimate goal for this series was to show what it was like 25-30 years ago when the gay community was marching for it's civil rights, fighting AIDS, and coming together as a community; and, what's it's like now for many LGBTQ teens who we found to be confident, open, and happy to be who they are.

DICKERMAN PRINTS GALLERY:What inspired you to get involved with the movement? 

SAUL BROMBERGER: “Motivation for me started back in the 80’s when coverage of the movement was just beginning in local newspapers. At the time I worked for SF chronicle, and there were male photographers with telephoto lenses running around snapping shots. Working with a newspaper, I knew how photography could impact people’s lives.

The problem I saw was that most photographers would only focus on the nudity and the flamboyant nature of the movement; basically showcasing only the outrageous and crazy aspects of the community, but they didn’t focus on the actual community. It labeled the LGBTQ community as ‘crazy and wild,’ and this angered me.”

DPG: What did you want to portray by shooting the LGBTQ community? 

SB: "I wanted to tell people's stories by show casing the little moments that I witnessed. It was about showing the side where parents are supporting their children and the community. 

Back when we first started shooting the Pride movement, there was still a lingering ghost of AIDS.  I I wanted my photographs to help raise awareness about AIDS and the people dying from it. I wanted to bring light to the movement and show that it a civil rights movement before anything else, because that wasn't how it was being portrayed in the newspapers at the time."

DPG: Who are some of your biggest inspirations?

SB: "One of my biggest influences would be Eugene Smith. One of his most famous projects was working with Minamata disease (caused by mercury poisoning) in Japan. His dramatic photographic essay brought world attention to Minamata disease and conveyed the idea of passion and the hopefulness. This to me was incredible and life affirming and I wanted to incorporate this into my work. 

Another incredible influence I had would be Bruce Davidson. I was inspired by his project shooting scenes of urban poverty on East 100th Street in New York. He was aiming to bring change and awareness to a population that was often left ignored and deemed 'ghetto,' when there was so much more to it than that. He worked hard to balance the dire situations that residents lived in with moments of beauty and resilience. It was also a common thread throughout his life’s work."

DPG: You've been shooting Pride since the 80's, what do you think has changed the most about it over the years?

SB: "I think one of the biggest elements that has changed about Pride is that back in the 80's people were marching for their civil rights. People would wait all year for Pride to be with the one that they loved. Some people even risked losing their job if they were caught attending Pride by their work. 

In the last few years, ever since same sex marriage was legalized, I have noticed much more corporations have been involved. This is a great– don't get me wrong, but I feel like it's become more about promoting brands rather than be about the core of the movement itself, civil rights. 

This year; however, with the Trump administration, I've been seeing a lot more resistance and the come back of fighting for civil rights and equality for all."

Interested in shooting civil rights movements like Saul and Sandra?

Here are some tips to help you get started: 

1. Get close and once you feel like you're close, get closer! 
This will not only help keep your photos direct and less busy, but you will be able to capture the smaller details and moments that a lot of people miss when shooting with a telephoto lens.

2. It's about Interpreting a scene, how do you want people to feel?
Ask yourself why you are there with a camera. What is it that you want to capture while shooting?

3. Don't be afraid to talk to people! 
Introduce yourself and remember to always be respectful when shooting. It's about making connections with people and learning their story and capturing their light and love.

4. Timing is everything! 
Every good documentary photographer knows that it's about waiting for the story telling elements to come together and then shooting in the moment.

5. Bring different lenses. 
This will help create a diverse body of work and make capturing different images easier.

To learn more about Saul and Sandra's work and for contact information, please visit their website.

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