“Community” was a self-driven project in which I wanted to profile a random group of people under a collective theme. The end result became a short 50 page book.
This project was a lot of fun to work on with plenty of challenges.
I kept having this idea of putting together a portrait book but that was all I knew for a long time – that I wanted to make a book of portraits. Every other element of the project from a theme, to a focus, to a subject, even who I would photograph, all were questions left unanswered. Each time I thought about how I wanted to classify the people I’d photograph, my formula was too vague. One idea was to document just street artists, another idea was to capture street fashion, then there were other random variations of this chaotic picking of people or topics. Nothing was sticking.
There was a coffeehouse a block from my apartment that I loved spending hours in. The coffee was far better than my supermarket coffee, and the company was much better than my empty apartment. During a brainstorming session to try and narrow the focus of this project, I was chatting it up with Doniece, the shop owner and she suggested I photograph the different types of people that came into her shop.
It felt like one of those passive suggestions. You know the type; a “softball” idea to get the creative thinking going. I remember she said it then walked away to greet a customer. We both just sort of shrugged it off with a small laugh. The idea lingered though and by the time I left that afternoon I had my focus. I would try to portray the Denver community by interviewing people that make up the community. And what better place to find your community than in the coffeehouse?!
I started putting up posts on a (at that time) new online classifieds website, Craigslist, asking for anyone interested in being part of the project to come to the coffeehouse.
Over the course of a month I set up a makeshift studio in front of their bright orange wall and the people just came in. It was a “Field of Dreams” moment really.
Skills portrait photography, lighting on location, studio lighting, set lighting, set design, documentary storytelling, interviewing, layout design, book construction