Parks looks fondly on the time he spent making portraits, most of whom were of people he's admired and felt totally at ease with. He says that in most cases, he's been able to intertwine a subject's personality with his or her profession. "The responsibility of breaking down any barriers that stood between them and my camera belonged to me," he says. "Since each of them seemed comfortable with my presence, I didn't experience any problems. I remain grateful for having shared time with them."
Parks first photographed Gloria Vanderbilt, a very close friend of his for many, many years, when she was an aspiring actress and did her first Broadway show. Parks says Vanderbilt had no problems with race and that they never had a discussion about racism until very recently, when The New York Times Sunday Magazine did a piece on interracial relationships. "We accepted each other's cultural pursuits," he explains, "and that was the important thing, that she was writing or painting and I was doing my photography and my films, my poetry...it wasn't so hard."