Story Behind the Photo - The First Equality Shot.
Quite a few years ago, on a blog far away, I started sharing some of the stories and memories that I had behind some of my photos. Many of my photos don't really have a story other than we thought "hey, this might look cool." Others have more of a memory than a story. After spending some time going through old stuff, I've decided to start blogging some about ones that stick out to me. This photo is one that had a bit of a story and really sparked a series that kinda grew into a life of it's own.
2013 was a very odd year for me. The first half of the year I was preparing for a move to Portland, Oregon. The people in Chattanooga were amazingly supportive and one of the people that I grew very close to during that time is Tattoo Artist Jennifer Edge. We became friends from a shoot that I did for Triple 7 and then I did some promo work for her personally as well. We hit it off and she just is an incredible creative visionary.
In 2013, the background of this idea was that the movement for equality was reaching a fever pitch. Everywhere you turned there were posts, as well as many people had the equality symbol for profile pictures. There was a lot of hate on social media about it. People taking a stand, and others just saying extremely hateful rhetoric. My view was always that I stand for equality and I don't believe the government should create laws based off religious views. If we allow the government to create laws based off of certain religious views, then we open them up to create more laws on different religious views and at some point they'll get around to coming after us all. But I digress....
After moving to Portland, I kept in touch with Jennifer and she was busy with building Main Line Ink. They were opening to their own tattoo shop here in Chattanooga. I was scheduled to come back to Chattanooga for two weeks to shoot a wedding for a friend and while I was back they had asked me to do an art show at the grand opening of Main Line Ink. I was beyond thrilled.
I've always enjoyed doing work that makes people think. Work that might make some uncomfortable. I was browsing magazines at a bookstore in Portland and I flipped the page and I saw a photograph of Angelina Jolie. She had a big red X on her lips. Immediately an idea popped in my head and I knew I wanted to do the photograph with Edge.
When I got back to Chattanooga, I was scheduled to do a big photoshoot for promos for Main Line Ink, and after the crowd had died down that evening, hairstylist Shae Luke came in and did Edge's hair/makeup. The shot turned out perfectly. We waited to do the big reveal of the photo until the art show at the grand opening.
The response to the photo was insane. I was shocked and then more and more people were sending messages to us about it. People wanted to be photographed for it. More people than I could ever think of creative ideas for wanted to be part of the series. They wanted to show their support for equality. It's one of the photos that I feel was way bigger than me or even Jennifer. It sparked something that resonated with people and made them feel something. That's one of the best feelings in the world to be able to have contributed to something that makes people think and feel.