Chicago has many opportunities to grow your documentary photography skills and is always a good way to stretch ones self 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.
That’s the adventure of documentary photography. You never know what your going to learn or what type of images your going to get.
Recently, I have been striving to create more personal work by documenting the people close to me.
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 stories, 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 thought about the look and feel of this series. When I create personal work I try and be particle first and creative second so I don’t get carried away and then abandon an idea.
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 min. 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.
To see the full collection visit: Betty Cherry’s Birthday Party
Check out more of Matthew Bowie’s photography on his website and Altpick.com page.