I photographed Eli Wilson for my project at his studio in Humbolt Park, Chicago. He is a saxophonist and plays in a funk band as well as hosting his own alternative music night, featuring cabaret and burlesque dancers. The studio was just like an indy music studio should be – a bit messy, old furniture strewn around, a Playboy lying nonchalantly on the floor circa early 90s and a bar filled with bourbon. If you were writing a book and needed a cool, laid back music scene, this would be it. Outside the studio was the purple tour bus – I know, I told you – perfect!
Eli was a thoroughly approachable and lovely person. I am looking forward to dragging my husband to one of his music events – that’s the joy of this project – I am getting to go everywhere and meet everyone and I love it!
“So what brings you joy?” I asked him at the end of the shoot. “Lack of routine and structure. I thrive on putting myself in crazy situations and figuring out how to make it work and have fun with it. That’s probably the biggest joy in my life.”
For more information about Eli’s future performances, please see these websites:
Luxotica Lounge Cabaret – http://www.luxoticaloungecabaret.com
Super Happy Funtime Burlesque – http://www.superhappyfuntimeburlesque.com
Gramps the Vamp – http://www.grampsthevamp.com
You can also check his website for up to date listings – http://www.elivwilson.com
Here is Ben Mackey, singer and songwriter with the band Faux Co. I photographed him for my Chicago Stories exhibition. He has lived in Chicago for three years and originated from California.
The best part about photographing a singer is when they play for you. Out came his guitar and he sang me a lovely rendition of a Bob Dylan song as I took pictures of him on his porch. I love it when photography allows me to enter someone’s life and become a participant for a few hours and not just a passerby. This project is giving me a snapshot of people’s lives all over the city. As a thoroughly inquisitive person, who loves knowing about my fellow humans, this is both enlightening and very satisfying.
“What gives you joy Ben?” I asked him, “Music,- music and love” he replied.
I had to add this one as it’s so uplifting and the sun was shining and today is an optimistic day!
Today I photographed beautiful Joon at the Millennium Park in downtown Chicago. I met her at Nordstrom the other day, whilst shopping for a big puffy, bear like coat to keep me warm in the Chicago winter. She redirected me wisely to something far more sophisticated and exciting and, as I tried on the coat, I started to talk to her. I found her very charming and friendly and invited her to be part of my project and she said yes! Here she is, looking wonderful and enigmatic on a gorgeous bright day in Chicago. Joon came here from Korea when she was just 11 years old. She loves fashion, is super stylish and has a very endearing personality. She has just got engaged and is very happy!
“So what brings you joy?” “My family, I have been travelling with them the whole time in my life, from Korea to America- my family is everything and now.. my fiancé and his family as well- getting to know them and learning about them brings me joy.”
I met wonderful Tiffany at Lush In Lincoln Park in Chicago. I was out shopping with Skyla in tow and we got chatting about life, Chicago, the environment and dogs. It was a quiet day in the shop! She talked about her love of cycling and one thing lead to another and she accepted my proposal – to be in my exhibition! Here she is in the Conservatory in Lincoln Park. The best part of doing this shoot, apart from having a lovely time with Tiffany, was the fact that the conservatory was warm to the point of being tropical. I felt like we were on holiday!
I asked Tiffany what brought her joy and this was her lovely response, “so, the simple things .. I like being able to ride my bike, I like being outside, being with people that I love and being able to make other people happy”.
I met gorgeous Chrissy through a friend at my children’s school here in Chicago. Over an outdoor brunch, before the winter weather finally took hold, I asked her if she would take part in my big portrait project and she said yes! She is very down to earth and has a lovely girl dog called Frank, who made instant friends with my dog Skyla, which did make our shoot slightly chaotic! We are hoping to do another shoot together in the near future. I am bursting with ideas and Chrissy is very easy to photograph.
I met Gavin the first weekend we arrived in Chicago. He was making drinks for a cool crowd in an even cooler hat shop in Buck Town – a cool and creative part of town (if you are a Londoner, think Ladbroke Grove with a sprinkling of Kensal Rise and a teeny touch of Chiswick). There was a little party going on there during a festival weekend (this city has a lot of street festivals during the summer as it’s all part of the big release after the very big winter) and I got chatting to him as he made the drinks. I asked if i could take his photograph and he obligingly said yes, and five months later we finally did the shoot! His image will be part of my series for the exhibition, Chicago Stories, coming in September 2017.