Fred Zafran - 7 and H Streets NW

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For a year, I returned repeatedly to the neighborhood surrounding 7th and H Streets NW in inner city Washington, DC.  Something about this neighborhood kept bringing me back, to wander the streets with camera in hand, to explore, to understand, and with the intent to document what I saw.

This is the historic "Old Downtown" DC and the corner of 7th and H Streets is its "epicenter." Not long ago a blighted inner city neighborhood, it is now the revitalized Penn Quarter and the nexus of art, entertainment, and fine dining.  Vibrant and bristling with energy on the surface, this DC neighborhood could be considered a model of urban renewal.  But I found the spirit of place to be elusive... somewhat disquieting, and vaguely foreboding.

So I wandered the streets and alleyways without plan or preconception – observing, listening, and remaining open to the unforeseen.  As I did, images slowly emerged as a revelation of what was below the surface.  It was the hidden refrain of a neighborhood pulsating and trembling at the intersection of three distinct DC subcultures – a popular DC entertainment quarter, a Chinatown fading in decline, and a shadow world of the nearly forgotten… those struggling and living too close to the street.                                              

No photograph is the same as the reality it represents, and so the "7th and H Streets" portfolio is not a simple depiction of the neighborhood as observed. More than a documentary or social commentary, the work emerged (to my own surprise) as a photographic inquiry, pointing beyond the images themselves… to that which couldn’t be photographed directly.  This work is an effort to communicate the perceived emotional tone and tenor, the narrative and refrain, the faint and intangible presence of place.


Print Information

All images are archival pigment prints on museum quality archival 100% cotton fiber rag.

Images are approximately 13” x 19” (matted to 20” x 24”) and printed in a limited edition of 15 plus 4 Artist’s Proofs.

Larger size limited edition prints are available upon request.


Fred Zafran Photography

Leesburg, VA



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