Yachin Parham is a New York-based photographer and photojournalist. Parham focuses his lens on highlighting expression, supporting vulnerability, and revealing character. He recently went out to capture images from protests across New York. We spoke with Parham about his creativity behind the lens and capturing these moments in history.
What inspired you to become a photographer?
In 2008 when the market crashed I used to do real estate. All I knew was real estate and my aunt was like “What are you gonna do?” I was 25 years old with a daughter on the way. She said “Why don’t you come do photography?” and I was like, “No.” I didn’t want to do it, I knew nothing about it, and I’d never picked up a camera before. Through the wisdom of my uncle, he told me “Hey Yachin, why don’t you just give it a shot?” So I took her camera and used it to see if I liked it or not. She gave me a timeframe to be back in 30 minutes and I took two hours. That’s when I realized that I loved photography.
Tell us about your frontline photography during the protests in New York.
The very first week that I went out I had in my mind that this was about the rage and the emotion that everybody was feeling. It was indicative upon me to be present in that moment. It was the first time I did something like this, photographing conflict. I’ve done a lot of photography, travel photography but never conflict photography.
How do you capture these moments of protest without being distracted in the moment?
If I allow myself to indulge in that then I can miss something, because I’m only seeing out of essentially one eye. I have to keep my head on the swivel and focused on the goal, which is to document this moment. If you lean one way or the other, then you’ll miss out on a potential photo or something that’s really important. It almost happened because I almost got trampled by this guy running away from the police. If I wasn’t present at that moment I would have been grabbed. Immediately when I turned around, there was someone getting milk and baking soda and water poured on their face to wash off the pepper spray. If I would have allowed myself to be engulfed at that moment, then I would have missed out on that other shot.