Rich Frishman Photography
Ghosts of Segregation American Splendor This Land Technique Videos


All human landscape has cultural meaning. Because we rarely consider our constructions as evidence of our priorities, beliefs and desires, the testimony our landscape tells is perhaps more honest than anything we might intentionally present. Our built environment is society's autobiography writ large.

Ghosts of Segregation photographically explores the vestiges of America's racism as seen in the vernacular landscape: Schools for "colored" children, theatre entrances and restrooms for "colored people," lynching sites, juke joints, jails, hotels and bus stations. What is past is prologue. Segregation is as much current events as it is history.  These ghosts haunt us because they are so very painfully alive.

American Splendor was born of an affection that I felt for our quirky culture. That nostalgia has waned as the times have been changing. Actually, I suppose, the times have not so much changed as they have been revelatory.  That homage is the genesis of Ghosts. In both, I imagine myself an archaeologist documenting the remnants of a vanished civilization. We often take our daily environments for granted, but within even the most mundane edifice may lurk an important bit of history. If we are curious and diligent, we can read our surroundings like a book. That stairway apparently to nowhere once went somewhere. The curious palimpsest of bricks covers something. What purpose did they serve?

My current projects, American Splendor and Ghosts of Segregation, are available as limited-edition fine art prints. I make the giclée prints myself, using archival pigment inks and archival fine art paper. If you are interested in acquisition or exhibition, please contact me directly for more information.


My first camera was a gift for my fifth birthday. I have never put it down, though I’ve traded it for progressively more expensive models. I am, by nature, a storyteller. Photography is my means of expressing those stories. My roots are in photojournalism, and those ethics still inform my work. Reality, in all its beauty and ugliness, is what I'm seeking to convey.

Growing up in Chicago, the son of a builder and would-be architect who loved to drive, I learned first hand the beauty of road trips and the ephemeral glory of even the most mundane edifice. My Dad would point out Louis Sullivan buildings and hot dog stands, explaining in his own way what made each unique. He showed me the Garrick Theatre as it was being demolished and the Auditorium as it was being restored. He took me to see Mies van der Rohe's Federal Center being built, and showed me the abundance of Frank Lloyd Wright's genius. On his own construction jobs he salvaged terra cotta gargoyles that were destined for the dumpster, hung abandoned artifacts from Gold Coast mansions in our modest den, and made his bedroom headboards from massive oak spiral stair treads from the old Federal Building.

From this humble appreciation springs my own artistic interests, such as Ghosts of Segregation and American Splendor. I consider these images as visual documentation of our American culture.