Dwayne Newton

Golden Gate Park 150th Anniversary Exhibit

San Franciscans know there are two vast green spaces in San Francisco; the first, where I was born, is the El Presidio de Real. The other – a former barren sand dune – is the long green swath that cuts through districts from the Great Highway to the Western Addition, is Golden Gate Park.

The park was my playground. We lived on 10th Avenue, and with the park a few blocks away, we sneaker-shod kids would run, ride, pogo stick and tumble the length and breadth of the park, coming home covered with layers of dirt – the very earth of Golden Gate Park is in my DNA as a result.

The California Academy of Science and the DeYoung Museum were my temples – I lived there, bugging the staff with questions; so much so, I was selected to be a 12-year-old docent in the Gems and Minerals Hall. That early introduction to the sciences and the arts in the park laid a seed of fascination for the photographic sciences – and the realization that you can travel the world through a viewfinder.

Photography is all about “being there,” and “being there” has allowed me to witness as a photojournalist the world through a viewfinder, documenting in all conditions and seasons the full spectrum of the human condition in 30 countries. Assignments include: Associated Press, ThomsonReuters, Salon.com, USA Today, Newsweek, Greenpeace, Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Center for Investigative Reporting, Mercy Corps and others.

The pact I’ve made with Golden Gate Park is to return, with these images, all small part of the wisdom, beauty, joy and dirt the park has given me.