Iâ€™ve always respected photographers who have taken on long-term photography projects close to home and have always wanted to start one. Additionally, I have always been drawn to photograph people on the outskirts of society. Those who, for whatever reason, are not as highly valued as others. It was in this vein that I decided to start a documentary project on the Parramore/Holden neighborhood of Orlando, Florida.
The Parramore/Holden neighborhood is a disadvantaged neighborhood that lives â€śacross the tracksâ€ť from downtown Orlando. Last year I was awarded a grant from United Arts of Central Florida which allowed me to pursue an environmental portrait series of the neighborhood.
In photojournalism weâ€™re often taught to be the fly on the wall, to not interact with your subjects. I had held to this golden rule for some time. Eventually though I felt cold hearted. Why couldnâ€™t I interact with my subjects? Why couldnâ€™t I make them feel happy about themselves and give them dignity? I wanted to break this rule with this project.
I have several goals I am trying to accomplish with these photos. First off, every person I photograph gets a print of the picture as a thank you for giving me his or her time. Often times the people in these communities have never had a professional portrait taken of them. I have received a great response with the prints I have given out so far. Secondly, I am trying to change the stereotypes people have of this community. Often times people in these types of communities are photographed in a way that is voyeuristic. While I admit that there are many problems facing this neighborhood I know that every neighborhood has problems. I want to show the beauty of the people of this area, something that is not often captured. Lastly, since this neighborhood is already showing signs of gentrification I want to capture a visual record of it before it disappears.
It has not been easy. I have spent countless hours building relationships before I have even taken out a camera. I know this is a long process and will take patience on my part. In the end though, I hope this will be a body of work that brings pride and joy to the people of the neighborhood.