Rod Taylor is the Executive Director for the REA International Group, a company he founded specializing in visual arts and education.
In the spring of 1988, Rod made his first trip to South Africa to see an old friend. He visited two-three times a year until 2005 when he remar-ried and moved to Johannesburg, South Africa to live. Since that time, he has been making pictures, reflecting on the common threads between African-American and South African cultures and is currently devoting his creative energies to photographing images for Township Pride in South Africa, a table-top book.
Roderick Taylor was born in Harlem, New York. In his early years, he was musically influenced by his father, who was a jazz musician and his father’s brother, Uncle Phil (Phil Taylor arranged music for Miles Davis and was a conductor for the New York Philharmonic).
The family moved to Yonkers, new York where Rod’s talent for the drums was recognized by Samuel H Dow American Legion Post drum and Fife Corps.
When Rod was 13, the family moved to the suburbs in the town of Greenburgh where he was nourished by creative legends; celebrities such as Gordon Parks and Cab Calloway, comedians Moms Mabley and Slappy White, singer LaVerne Baker, illustrators Emmett Campbell (the first black illustrator for Esquire) and Ted Shearer (illustrator of the car-toon Quincy). Neighbor/actor Diana Sands was instrumental introduc-ing Rod to acting and theatre.
Rod bought his first camera ’hot’. He joined friends, one of whom would create the band Atlantic Starr , learning photography at the Fair-view Greenburgh Community Center. Early on, he was inspired by Gordon Parks, Ernest Cole and Gene Smith and others who were pio-neers in environmental photography and the one page picture story.
“I loved clicking the shutter, clicking, clicking, clicking. I carried the camera around like a woman carries a purse.” Says Rod, laughing in retrospect. He attended New York University. In the late 70s, his friends in Atlantic Starr took him on their first tour to do their stage lighting.
Throughout the 1980s Rod was adjunct lecturer at Columbia Universi-ty’s Graduate School of Journalism in New York working along side former Life Magazine photojournalist John Shearer.
During this period he was also a digital pre-press consultant offering visual solutions to various publications such as the New York Times, Sports Illustrated for Kids, IBM Custom Publishing Group, the National Urban League, and advertising agencies. Rod has also photographed various music icons and groups for album covers.