PROFILE: @JUSTINGAAR

Photographed + Written by Justin Gaar (@justingaar)

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"Hello my name is Justin Gaar, as a child I had moved moved 10 times by the age of 11 around the southern US. I landed in Birmingham, AL at 10 and stayed, so that's where I was raised and lived into my 20's." - Justin
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"I had a very normal Southern childhood, except that I have a sister with a cognitive disability and my mom was a social worker in Alabama. I grew up around a lot of disability advocates and witnessed unbelievable poverty at a young age when I would tag along with my mom to work. It always blew my mind when teachers would talk about the "third world" and what they described or showed us was exactly like what I would see 45 minutes down the road." - Justin
 
"I've only been seriously shooting still photos for about five years, on and off. I took photography in college and shot 35mm for a long time, but I was never serious about it. My first job out of college was working as a documentary cinematographer for a PBS affiliate. So, I've been shooting for a long time, but I used to have a really hard time taking a single image. I didn't know how to tell a story with just one still. Still not sure I do, but I'm learning, ha." - Justin
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"I wanted to be a filmmaker and thought a film photography class would help me become a better filmmaker. I got obsessed with listening to golden era 90's hip-hop while printing in the dark room and it just kinda blossomed." - Justin
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"My most memorable moment in photography isn't a photo, although the photos from the event are very cool. I was in Tokyo in July 2019 at the first trans-continental meet-up of anti-Olympics activists for the year-out mark before the 2020 Olympics. People don't really know this, but the Olympics is a destructive real estate speculation scam that annihilates poor people's lives and devastates cities in their wake. There's a global movement to stop it. Anyway, this march in Tokyo was organized locally by Japanese activists, and I was shooting stills and video. We marched through the streets of Shinjuku, which is kinda like Times Square multiplied by 100. People rarely protest or march in Japan. It was shocking for people. The procession grew and grew. There were hundreds of people marching ,and thousands and thousands pouring into the street and looking through windows to see what was going on. I flew across the world to document it and also to be there in solidarity. The neon lights were glowing off of everyone's chanting happy singing faces. Protestors were moving with the rhythm of the chant. It was really beautiful both visually and politically. It just hit me suddenly as I was trying to capture it. I was in the middle of this gorgeously lit act of solidarity with strangers who came from all over the world to help incredibly vulnerable people they'd never met before. I was completely overwhelmed by it. I put my camera down and just took it all in. My eyes welled up. Like, just completely in awe of everyone and everything. It was just one of those things that I had to document with my own connection to the moment. The photos and 4k video I was shooting will never do the moment justice. I'm not a very outwardly emotional person. It was just that incredible." - Justin
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"I keep a small still camera on me all the time just in case the perfect moment happens in front of me. I guess I'm always looking for that. I love when the elements of light, subject, texture, color, etc all just plop down in front of you and you're lucky enough to be standing in front of it. That's what makes street photography so incredible." - Justin


"L.A is wild. A lot of people think of it as wealthy and glamorous, which it's rich AF, but that's not what makes L.A cool. It's a dusty, sprawling, working class megalopolis with so many cultures and subcultures. You'd do it a disservice trying to nail the city down. That's what makes L.A cool, and that's what the wealthy and glamorous pretend to be a part of, co-opt, and monetize. The real culture is out in it." - Justin
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"The photographs showcased in this piece is a mix of perfect moments I walked up on in daily life or on trips - my neighbors, people around L.A, Tokyo, Tijuana, and Brazil. Some of the photos are moments with family, comrades, or people in a struggle against money and power. It's a real grab bag." - Justin
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JUSTIN GAAR
(205)331-9292

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