Cover and feature photography for Secured Lender Magazine of Kevyn D. Orr, Partner at Jones Day, who during his time as Emergency City Manager of Detroit, Michigan, successfully spearheaded the city's emergence from bankruptcy.
Edith is 90 years young. She was born in New Jersey and attended Howard University, where she became a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and graduated in 1946. Her husband, a minister with the A.M.E. Church passed away in 1989. She has 3 three children, the oldest of which is 65 years old. She still lives alone, in the same house that she and her husband purchased back in 1954. She is one of the most dignified people I have ever met. She looks you directly in the eyes when speaking and has perfect, clear diction. As much as she enjoys her independence, she admits, with the urging of her children, that she may soon need some in-home assistance.
I recently met the director of a local, not-for-profit agency that provides health care, social services and educational opportunities to one of the most at-risk populations in our society--unwed teenage mothers. I was immediately interested in her work and eventually asked if I could come in one day and take portraits of the girls.
During my conversations with the director in preparation for the shoot, I learned something about the young women that she serves. Some of these girls--as young as 13 years old-- became pregnant as a result of a short-term relationship with a neighborhood boy close to their same age and engaged in unprotected sexual activity far too soon to comprehend the long term emotional, social, and psychological consequences of becoming parents without education, job skills, career prospects, housing or the substantial financial resources that it takes to raise children.
The director also shared stories that confirmed some of my worst and darkest fears. Many of the girls are victims of rape by adult male predators, in their 30's and 40's, who in many cases have families and children of their own. She described scenarios where these girls are literally stalked over the course of time going to and from school, at bus stops and subway stations, where these men learn their potential victim's routine, slowly befriends the young girl, gains her trust and eventually takes advantage of her youth and naivete'.
During my 2 hours at the facility, which does have the limited capacity to house those in most dire need, I did witness at three instances where immediate crisis intervention was needed. Keep in mind that most of these girls are from some of the most traditionally under served, low-income, high crime areas. Some already have substance abuse issues, both during pregnancy and parenting. By the way, no one I met was over 17 years old.
I found the girls to be very upbeat, and for the most part, very eager to pose for the camera in the makeshift portable studio that I set up; After all, regardless of circumstance, very few teenage girls do not want to be photographed professionally.
This project was at once satisfying and heart-breaking. Satisfying to have the young girls smile for the camera, especially those that had their boyfriends with them; and yet so heart-breaking with the knowledge that at a such a tender age, they have this awesome responsibility to figure out how to be good mothers to children when they are yet children themselves.
One image from my recent shoot with retired homicide detective Lieutenant Joe Kenda, star of Investigation Discovery's show "Homicide Hunter" as it appears on Discovery Channel Store's ID website.
Anne, 86 and Ken, 89, have been together for over 50 years.
When will you ever see these two names in the same sentence? Within a 48 hour period last week I had the opportunity to work with both of them.
First, it was Joe. I was the still photographer while he was shooting a series of promos for his show "Homicide Hunter" on Investigation Discovery Network. I am a fan of the show, by the way, and throughout the day we had a few conversations about his experience as a homicide detective and how he became the star of one of the highest rated programs on ID. He is very open, natural, engaging and funny and shared some great stories. During a break, while crew was shooting B-roll, I asked him if he wouldn't mind posing for me personally.
Two days later, I had a 6:30am call time (ouch!) as on set photographer at a television studio near Capitol Hill, where film director Spike Lee discussed his upcoming film, "Chi-Raq" and diversity in Hollywood with TV One's News One Now host and managing editor Roland S. Martin. Post interview, we had a fun Brooklyn/Bronx moment where Spike crossed his forearms and bellowed "BX in the house"! Very cool.
I am really fortunate to have the opportunity to photograph a wide range of assignments and people, including some of the highest ranking figures in politics, government and entertainment. While I am incredibly thankful and appreciative of those great opportunities and the access, the assignments that I get most personal satisfaction from are shooting portraits of people who do not have such lofty positions in our society; like those struggling with poverty, homelessness, mental illness, substance abuse and released convicted felons struggling to acclimate back into the mainstream.
Last weekend, I was asked to shoot a Halloween Party at Columbia Heights Village Apartments in the Columbia Heights neighborhood in Washington, D.C. This is a subsidized housing development, with the majority of its residents receiving some form of financial assistance from government. Like so many American cities, the pace of gentrification is rapid in D.C. and many low income citizens are being displaced. This gallery shows some of the faces of the city who are not lobbyists, elected or appointed officials, entrepreneurs, real estate developers or attorneys. These are a few faces of those who are so often overlooked and ignored.