Chicago has many opportunities to grow your documentary photography skills and is always a good way to stretch oneself as a photographer. Nothing beats the thrill of walking up to a complete stranger and asking them if you can take their portrait and talk with them about their life. In many cases people politely say no and walk away but occasionally someone will share with you an amazing story that is so interesting.
Several years ago I moved into a building in Logan Square and become very close friends with my neighbor Betty Cherry, a 70 year old Christian missionary, who has more interesting stories than the library. Betty has been through enough hardship to fill several life times. She keeps things simple and has a unique and personal way of talking about God. This series reflects the stores, emotions and experiences I’ve had with Betty over the years and how in many ways she is the grandma I never had.
I decided to reference a body of work created by fellow photographer, Andy Anderson, when I was considering the look and feel of this series.
Betty was having a BBQ for her 70th birthday party and I knew that many of her friends and family would be attending. I thought this would be a great opportunity to create a mini body of portraits that would be interesting and fairly easy to create.
I showed up early. Set up a black fabric background off to the side and throughout the party grabbed people and spent a few minutes with them. It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot and got to try some new ideas on getting more emotion out of a subject which was a success. I’m really happy with how the images came out and thankful to all the amazing subjects I got to work with.