In November of 2002, I began the journey of my biggest personal photo project.
My family and I are members of the First Unitarian Society of Westchester. It was a Sunday in November of 2002 that our Minister David Bryce gave a sermon in celebration of his ten years with the congregation. During this sermon the word 'community' kept coming up.
As I sat there, I pictured this community represented photographically. I visualized a wall of portraits that would show this community as separate individuals who were also connected together within this congregation.
I submitted a proposal to photograph every willing individual who felt a relationship with this 'community.' Society members, staff, spouses, children—all were welcome.
There were no charges to the participants to be photographed. We created a fund raising project in which subjects were given an opportunity to sponsor photos, much like programs in which participants sponsor bricks in the local town mall. Shooting digitally, the only expenses were for the actual printing and mounting. It was important to me that the community members act as part of the process and that they would feel that this was their project, not just mine.
Shooting started in December 2002 and ran through June of 2003. Setting up a mini-studio after services, I photographed from one to twenty separate subjects almost every Sunday during this period. Over this six-month period, I photographed 192 people. My youngest subject was four months old.
One member of the congregation was ill with cancer when I photographed her. She confided that she knew she would not be alive by the time the show was displayed but wanted to be included despite that.
On September 7, 2003 the exhibit was unveiled to great approval. The exhibit was open through April of 2004 at which time the photos were given to the subjects as per the original plan.
The work and time I contributed on this project was repaid many times over by what I got out of it. I grew as a person and as a photographer during this project. I hope to do a project of this magnitude again.