During his long career, Dawoud Bey has moved from his earliest street photographs done in 1970s Harlem to formal studio portraits using a 20-by-24-inch Polaroid camera in the 1990s. These more recent works, such as Brian and Paul and Patrick, are saturated with color and narratives of American life.
Bey’s models, along with the artist, choose what they will wear and how they will be portrayed. Foregoing the traditional idea of a single “definitive moment” captured by a portrait, Bey uses multiple panels to show the many possible sides and faces of his subjects. Although he often works with teenagers, Bey also takes photographs of his friends and a range of communities.