Two years ago, on Memorial Day, I was traveling from state to state, working on a book project entitled Future American President. As I drove toward Indianapolis, Indiana I spotted what appeared to be a large group having a holiday barbeque. From the highway I could see tons of cars outside the home and a big green and white tent. For the Future American President project, I approached strangers all over America and asked them if I could photograph their children. As you can imagine, it was a bit scary doing this.
When I first saw the house from the highway I envisioned a large family having a great time together enjoying the holiday. I thought an image of a family spending time together in this way would be powerful and that families all over America would be able to relate to such an image. Something inside me said, go and knock on the door and introduce myself…Then my internal fight started. Part of me wanted to knock on the door and tell them about my project, but then part of me didn’t want to intrude. What if they wanted to be left alone? What if they thought I was some crazy lunatic? Also, lets face it, what if they were scared, (or hated) Black people? This was the internal fight that went on in my head as I drove down the highway. Two miles later, I thought about the words, “you have not, because you ask not.” I turned the car around and drove back to the house.
I truly believe God protects me throughout my travels wherever I go, so I can never really be fearful. The fear is always in your head. As I pulled up to the driveway, my heart was beating a million miles a minuet. It seemed no matter how many times I approached strangers and told them about my project, it didn’t get any easier. I knocked on the door and was greeted by a smiling face who asked, “can I help you?” I introduced myself and started talking about how I saw the family gathering and told her what I was doing. She said, “well it sounds like a great thing you’re doing but you’d have to ask the owners of the house.” Then she invited me in and took me out back where I saw about 30 people having a great time. I was introduced to the couple hosting the gathering and told them about my project and why I decided to stop at their home on Memorial Day. I showed them images on my ipad of other families I’d photographed around the country and they loved the project. Then they said, “well, who would you want to photography because there are a lot of kids here?” I said, how about the youngest child here? The next thing I knew I was being introduced to a young mother with a 7 week-old baby.
Last week, my minister at One Church spoke about audacious living, and defined it as “showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks.” He said, “you will never be as great as you can be without taking risks. Creating Future American President is a series of bold risks but I believe in the message of this project. I believe this book has the potential to make a profound impact on children everywhere by seeing themselves in ways they wouldn’t have imagined otherwise.
I want to have a stronger impact on children with this project. What if I could include every child in America in the book? Well, my team and I have figured out how to do just that. Very soon every family in the world will have the ability to put their child’s face on the COVER of the FUTURE AMERICAN PRESIDENT book with a special edition version of the book. Imagine your child growing up with their face on the cover of a book that is dedicated to inspiring children to dream big.
To photograph this image I used Profoto strobe lights to overpower the sun. This image was shot during the middle of the day, when the sun is the most intense. I shot one stop over the daylight reading. The sunlight was reading on F 16.0 @ 1/125th, so i used my Sekonic light meter and adjusted the strobe to read F22.0, which is one stop over the sunlight reading and makes for an image that is dramatic and solves the problem of bad light from midday sun.
Always Dream Big