The journey begins

Good Friday in 1983 fell on April 1 that year. That day I went to a local soup kitchen in Bloomington, Indiana, to complete a project for the introductory photojournalism class taught by Will Counts. The project was to produce a photograph documenting the economic condition of Indiana during the recession of 1983.

The soup kitchen was on the other side of town. Despite having to walk there, I arrived

ralph-collins-1
Ralph Collins, Good Friday 1983

 

before the kitchen staff began serving lunch. Because of the sensitive nature of documenting people’s economic state, I made sure to get the permission of the staff and of anyone whom I shot a photograph.

 

One of my subjects was a taxi driver who brought his family to the kitchen. The free soup meals helped him to stretch his food budget.

The most memorable person whom I photographed was Ralph Collins. He walked by with his vegetable soup lunch and declared that he was full of the Holy Spirit. A fellow classmate, Gloria, shot his photograph first. Mr. Collins also agreed to my request for a photograph.

A week later the graduate teaching assistants revealed their selections of the best photographs that illustrated the theme. My graduate teaching assistant—whose name I’ve sadly forgotten—revealed my photograph of Mr. Collins, much to my shock. She handwrote an assessment of the photo that is still on the back of the original print:

4-8-83

Russell,

This is a touching photograph. The image is very much alive…good work. There is a true sense of depression in this photo.

A

The teaching assistant passed out certificates to all the winners, establishing them as members of the “Counts, Cartier-Bresson” photographic fraternity.

So the journey began.

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