Thomas Roma

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Thomas Roma (formerly Thomas Germano born in 1950) is an American photographer who has worked almost exclusively since 1974 exploring the neighborhoods and institutions of his native Brooklyn, photographing scenes from churches, subways and everyday life. His work, made almost exclusively using a homemade camera, has received widespread acclaim.

Documentary photography usually refers to a popular form of photography used to chronicle events or environments both significant and relevant to history and historical events as well as everyday life. It is typically covered in professional photojournalism, or real life reportage, but it may also be an amateur, artistic, or academic pursuit.

Brooklyn Borough in New York City and county in New York state, United States

Brooklyn is a borough of New York City, coterminous with Kings County, located in the U.S. state of New York, the most populous county in the state, and the second-most densely populated county in the United States. It is New York City's most populous borough, with an estimated 2,504,700 residents in 2010. Named after the Dutch village of Breukelen, it borders the borough of Queens at the western end of Long Island. Brooklyn has several bridge and tunnel connections to the borough of Manhattan across the East River, and the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge connects it with Staten Island.


Roma was a founder of the Department of Photography at Columbia University's School of the Arts and was head of the Department. He retired from his professorship there in 2018, shortly after the publication of a New York Times article about allegations of misconduct made by some of his former students. [1] Roma has also taught photography at Yale, Fordham, and Cooper Union. [1]

Columbia University Private Ivy League research university in New York City

Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university in New York City. Established in 1754 on the grounds of Trinity Church in Manhattan, Columbia is the oldest institution of higher education in New York and the fifth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It is one of nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence, seven of which belong to the Ivy League. It has been ranked by numerous major education publications as among the top ten universities in the world.

Yale University Private research university in New Haven, Connecticut, United States

Yale University is a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701, it is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine Colonial Colleges chartered before the American Revolution.

Fordham University American university

Fordham University is a private research university in New York City. Established in 1841 and named for the Fordham neighborhood of the Bronx in which its main campus is located, Fordham is the oldest Catholic and Jesuit-affiliated university in the northeastern United States, and the third-oldest university in New York State.

He has been awarded two Guggenheim Fellowships and his work has appeared in one-person exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and the International Center of Photography in New York City. [1] Roma's work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Art Institute of Chicago, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Guggenheim Fellowships are grants that have been awarded annually since 1925 by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to those "who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts."

Museum of Modern Art Art museum in Manhattan, New York City

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is an art museum located in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, on 53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

International Center of Photography photography museum, school and research center in Manhattan, New York City

The International Center of Photography (ICP) in Manhattan, New York City, consists of a museum for photography and visual culture at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City, New Jersey, and a photography school in Midtown Manhattan. It was founded in 1974.

For his collections of black-and-white photographs Come Sunday, exhibited at MOMA in 1996, Roma attended more than 150 religious services at 52 black churches in Brooklyn over a period of three years. [2] Come Sunday is one of Roma's best-known works, along with a collection of photographs at people in the Brooklyn courthouses. [1]

The term black church refers to Protestant churches that currently or historically have ministered to predominantly African American congregations in the United States. While some black churches belong to predominantly African-American denominations, such as the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), many black churches are members of predominantly white denominations, such as the United Church of Christ.

Courthouse building which is home to a court

A courthouse is a building that is home to a local court of law and often the regional county government as well, although this is not the case in some larger cities. The term is common in North America. In most other English-speaking countries, buildings which house courts of law are simply called "courts" or "court buildings". In most of Continental Europe and former non-English-speaking European colonies, the equivalent term is a palace of justice.

Siciliano Camera Works

In the 1970s, Roma started manufacturing and selling cameras under the name "Siciliano Camera Works".[ citation needed ] He produced the medium format "Siciliano", the 35 mm panoramic "Pannaroma", as well as a rewind crank for the Leica M2 and M3. To create the panoramic camera, Roma used a Nikon F camera body that was gutted and served merely as a film holder. He milled an adapter out of aircraft aluminum to go between the Nikon body and a Mamiya 50 mm Sekor lens. He also made a bright-line optical viewfinder for the camera.

Nikon F Camera model

The Nikon F camera, introduced in April 1959, was Nikon's first SLR camera. It was one of the most advanced cameras of its day. Although many of the concepts had already been introduced elsewhere, it was revolutionary in that it was the first to combine them all in one camera. It was produced until October 1973 and was replaced by the Nikon F2. Aspects of its design remain in all of Nikon's subsequent SLR cameras, through the current Nikon F6 film and Nikon D5 digital models. The "F" in Nikon F was selected from the term "re-f-lex", since the pronunciation of the first letter "R" is not available in many Asian languages. That tradition was carried all the way through their top line of Nikon cameras until the introduction of the Nikon D1 (digital) cameras decades later.

Roma uses a medium format camera.

Books by Roma

Robert Coles is an American author, child psychiatrist, and professor emeritus at Harvard University.

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Norman Mailer American novelist, journalist, essayist, playwright, film maker, actor and political candidate

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Roma is married to Anna Friedlander, daughter of photographer Lee Friedlander. They have one son, Giancarlo T. Roma.

Controversy and sexual allegations

On January 3, 2018, The New York Times published an article about allegations made by five former students from Columbia University and School of Visual Arts, in which they accused Roma of sexual misconduct. [3] [4] [5]

Through an attorney, Roma issued a statement about the accusations: "The statements they [the five women] are making about his asserted misconduct are replete with inaccuracies and falsehoods. All four [five] have taken isolated, innocent incidents, none of them predatory, and have created fictitious versions of reality that are libelous and in the present political climate designed to damage his career and his personal life. Professor Roma’s sympathies then and now lie with those who have been mistreated in any way and he completely fails to understand why these women have chosen to create these complaints two decades after the alleged facts supposedly occurred."

Roma retired from teaching at Columbia University on January 3, 2018. [6] [7]

The National Gallery of Art cancelled an exhibition of Roma's work, scheduled to open May 2018, because of the accusations. [8]


Roma's work is held in the following permanent public collections:

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Moynihan, Colin (3 January 2018). "Thomas Roma, Photographer and Professor, Accused of Sexual Misconduct". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 2019-05-12.
  2. Come Sunday: Photographs By Thomas Roma (press release), Museum of Modern Art, April 4–June 18, 1996.
  4. "Thomas Roma, Photographer and Columbia University Professor, Accused of Sexual Misconduct". Hyperallergic. 2018-01-03. Retrieved 2018-01-04.
  5. "Photographer Thomas Roma Accused of Sexual Misconduct". PetaPixel. 2018-01-04. Retrieved 2018-01-05.
  6. Moynihan, Colin (2018). "Columbia Professor Accused of Sexual Misconduct Retires". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 2018-01-04.
  7. "Photography professor Thomas Roma retires amid allegations of sexual misconduct - Columbia Daily Spectator". Retrieved 2018-01-05.
  8. Colin Moynihan And Robin Pogrebin. "The National Gallery of Art Cancels a Chuck Close Show After Misconduct Accusations", The New York Times , January 26, 2018. Retrieved on January 27, 2018.
  9. Thomas Roma, Museum of Modern Art
  10. Thomas Roma, SFMOMA
  11. Thomas Roma, Art Institute of Chicago
  12. Thomas Roma at LACMA