Photography, Video and Audio To Do List at Heartland Alliance UC Shelters

Below is a copy of the text from a google doc I’ve put together for Maria to help outline what I’m planning on still accomplishing at the several UC shelters I’ve been working with.

Photographs of facilities

  • Photograph interiors at CHAP – My wife has been working more regularly at CHAP and will be spending June working there exclusively.  While I’ve visited there before I still haven’t been able to make images at this location and I think it would be a nice addition to the interior images I’ve made to date as this facility is smaller and cares for a very unique population of unaccompanied children.  (IE babies and pregnant girls) 
  • Photograph interiors at ICCB – I’ve taken my wife to work at ICCB now at least once now as she’s been filling in for staff shortages at other programs.   Previously I don’t think this facility was in use when I was making other photographs of interiors. It would be nice to add some more variety to the interiors and make some more images in 1-2 different facilities.
  • Photograph interiors at ICRC – Specifically I’d like to make some images in the laundry room, kitchen, food storage and library of ICRC.  That’s one area that I didn’t get to photograph and would allow me to better show that these spaces care for kids on a large scale.

Overall I think I’d only need one day at CHAP, one at ICRC and one at ICCB to wrap up my photographs of the interiors. 

Video and Interviews

  • Video portraits of UC Shelter Staff – The videos that I’m planning to make would be akin to still photography in that the videos would be portraits of staff not talking or moving.  I am planning that these videos would be made in a studio style setup that I bring to a UC facility.  This would include a backdrop and lighting equipment.  I’d aim to make a video that could be played alongside a separately recorded audio interview.  The effect would be looking at an ever so slightly moving and blinking person who isn’t talking yet you would hear their words disconnected from the video imagery.  There’s several reasons that I would like to do this.  First is that it would allow me to make a cohesive set of video portraits in the same space with different people.  Second it would allow me to edit together audio much more easily that I can then cut down to fit a several minute video portrait of that person.  Third all of this could be done with minimal time on site so as not to monopolize too much of any staff member’s time as I know everyone is quite busy right now.  There have been other photographers that have used this technique and fairly recently Martin Schoeller has a series using this technique to create a space where wrongfully incarcerated people would tell their stories over a moving image of themselves.  The look and feel of my videos would be somewhat different but I think his recent work is a good illustration of how this image making strategy looks/feels generally.  I should be able to make a video like this of each staff member in 5-10 min once my studio space is set up.  
  • Audio only interviews of UC Shelter Staff – Referring to this list of interview questions that I have proposed I would ask everyone a set of questions and then choose selected sections to pair with the videos that I have described above.  Overall I’d like to spend 15-25 min interviewing people for this part of the project but I can work within whatever time can be set aside for me as I understand that the UC shelters are operating at very high capacity right now.   

The video and audio portions of my project should be able to be done over the course of 2 days on site.  Ideally I’d set up to do this at ICRC and ICC as both have large basement areas where I could easily set up my equipment out of everyone’s way. 

Photographs of things the kids make or are connected to them conceptually

  • Photograph more thank you letters from a wider variety of staff – It’s important that I can get a wider variety of these letters as I don’t think it would work as well in the overall project to only have images of thank you letters to one staff member.  I think it’s really important to show how all or most of the staff are overwhelmingly appreciated by the kids who they care for.  
  • Photograph more art made by the children (Paintings, drawings, handmade items including bracelets kids are making) – I think this would also add some variety to this overall section of the project.  My wife has recently been coming home with bracelets that the girls at CHAP have made and given to her.  She told me anecdotally that one of the girls who is 15 and pregnant made the bracelet and gave it to her.  It’s gestures like this that have really been resonating with me and I’d like to have a way of showing this in my project. 

Overall I think I could do all of the above in about 4-5 more planned site visits plus take some more things to be photographed off site like more letters.  This should put us in a good place for an exhibition / culminating event in September.

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