Keynote Talk: Portraiture As Political Struggle with Titus Brooks Heagins

North Carolina Museum of Art. Sunday, October 10th 1-2 p.m.

Image by Titus Brooks Heagins

The social uses of photography, especially portrait photography, have become commonplace, making it easy to miss the powerful significance that can be achieved by photographing people who are typically left out of story. The work of

Titus Brooks Heagins continues to profess the importance of the portrait as not simply a product of brief encounters between himself, his cameras, and various sitters, but as instances of truth. They are visual samples of representation of lives lived that are often intentionally hidden within social, economic, and judicial structures. Bringing these stories of representation into public spaces is a key artistic motivator and will be one of the topics of discussion in the artist talk presented by Heagins.

Titus Brooks Heagins, MFA is a documentary portraitist.  His work records the experiences of those who descended from Africa through the lens of social justice and those who have been “othered” in the US and abroad.  Heagins’ work has taken him across the nation and the globe seeking threads that bind members of the African diaspora.

His major bodies of work illuminate the spiritual expressions of Black Americans, Afro-Cubans, Haitians, Afro-Brazilians, among others.  He has captured the lives of descendants of Black service men in Vietnam, the displaced in China, and those whose gender expression has been a source of joy and oppression in the US and abroad.  Most recently Heagins has turned his lens to the contemporary protests by African Americans and allies for social justice brought again to public attention by the confluence of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the murders of African American men and women.

Heagins was born in Chicago, IL and holds an AB in Political Science from Duke University and an MFA in Photography from the University of Michigan.  He has taught graduate courses on Image Theory, Women’s History of Photography and History of Photography. His work is in the collections of the Smithsonian Institute, the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Do Good Fund, the Halsey Institute at the College of Charleston, SC and Casa de Africa in Havana, Cuba.  He has exhibited across the country and in Paris, France and Havana, Cuba.  Heagins also lends his time to mentoring beginning photographers.

This lecture is available both in person at the NCMA in the auditorium or you may register to watch via Zoom Webinar.

Register Here

His keynote will be preceded by a slide show of artist’s submissions for the “Persevere” exhibition.

East Building; SECU Auditorium or Zoom Webinar


Keynote Talk: Our Strange New Land: Narrative Movie Sets in the American South with Alex Harris

Durham Arts Council Theater. Sunday, October 17th, 5pm

Our Strange New Land: Narrative Movie Sets in the American South

with Alex Harris

Drawing on images and experiences from five decades behind the camera, Alex Harris will show and discuss the tension between documentary and fiction in photography during his talk at the Durham Arts Council Theater for the Click! Photography Festival on Oct. 17, 5 p.m. EST.

In 2017, with a commission from the High Museum in Atlanta, Harris set out to immerse himself in the world of southern fiction filmmakers. Since that time, he has photographed a wide variety of 41 different films including historical, contemporary, horror, experimental, long and short form, low budget and multi-million-dollar productions. His pictures are now published in a new book with Margaret Sartor: Our Strange New Land: Narrative Movie Sets in the American South (Yoffy Press 2021).

“Photographing behind the scenes on fiction film sets across the south, I began to notice that it was difficult to see the difference between my pictures of actors in front of the filmmaker’s lens, of crew behind the scenes, and of people living in communities around the set. Preparing for this talk, I looked back at earlier, documentary and family photographs I’ve made over the years, and was struck by the ways many seem to predict my more recent movie set pictures “ 



I have come to think of my photographs from this project as documenting an idea that’s long been celebrated in literature, that’s been explored in science, and conveyed by philosophers, that is, the ways in which we’re all actors in our own lives, creating our sets, practicing our lines, refining our characters, playing ourselves.”

Photo credit Eliza Harris

Alex Harris has photographed extensively in the American South, New Mexico, Alaska and Cuba. He is one of the founders of the Center for Documentary Studies and of Doubletake Magazine. Harris is an emeritus professor at Duke where has taught for four decades through the Sanford School, The Center for Documentary Studies, and the MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts. His awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship in Photography, a Rockefeller Foundation Humanities Fellowship, a Lyndhurst Prize, and the Robert Cox Undergraduate Teaching Award at Duke. As a photographer and editor, Harris has published 20 books including River of Traps, a 1991 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in general non-fiction.  Other books include The Idea of Cuba (2007), Why We are Here with evolutionary biologist E.O. Wilson (2012) and Our Strange New Land: Narrative Movie Sets in the American South with Margaret Sartor (2021).

Durham Arts Council Building 120 Morris St. Durham, NC


The Click! 2020 Keynotes have been archived on YouTube.

Keynote Talk: Emmet Gowin

“Only Chance is Fair” This Keynote is now available on YouTube

Keynote Talk: Mark Osterman

Finding my Voice. The keynote is now archived on YouTube.