I had the really good fortune to work with a wonderful Reno non-profit the past couple of weeks doing business portraits of their board members and staff. The non-profit is the Eddy House, and they serve to aid the homeless youth of the Reno area. To be honest I didn't know much about Eddy House until undertaking this project and I feel that learning about the mission they are undertaking and the huge problem of not only homelessness, but youth homelessness is in the area. I'm guessing if you are outside the Reno, NV area and reading this that there is a very good chance that there is a youth homeless situation in your area too. Anyway, I was also shocked that there is a homeless problem amongst college students too, that being that these kids are investing every thing they have to better themselves through education. The problem is they don't have any money left to pay for housing, so they live out of their cars. That's hard to fathom, but its a reality! It just goes to show how upside down so many things are right now, that someone invests every penny they have to better themselves through higher education, but have to live out of their car - I mean let that sink in for a minute! Thank god there is an organization like Eddy House and their wonderful staff to help think of ways to mitigate this problem, but it's a big challenge and they have some amazing people to help all these kids figure out how to find some shelter, showers, job skills, jobs, counseling, and mentors to help set them up for success in the crazy cruel world we live in. Now you know a little of the backstory of what I've learned the past few weeks photographing these wonderful people.
When I first was asked to do this project I noticed a lot of purple on the Eddy House Website eddyhouse.org. I was intrigued by how prevalent it was and suggested to the marketing director that maybe I could find some purple seamless paper to use a backdrop to tie the portraits into the marketing, and so that's what I did. I tell you human skin tones against a purple backdrop just sing! Just proves that color harmony really works! What I learned this week is purple is the color that represents youth homelessness, and that's the battle these folks are in so having that purple backdrop really means something to me know and hopefully if you are still reading this you are now informed as well.
The standard business portraits turned out great with the purple background and everything, but I also wanted to do something special for the staff as a way I could thank them for what they are doing to help make the community of Reno a better place for all it's residents, and in particular our future generation that should not have to worry about where they are going to stay warm and safe for the night. What I wanted to do for these heros was to create a custom portrait of each of them showcasing something they are passionate about outside of work. It's amazing how many of them said the kids they are helping are what they are really passionate about, but they each brought something that they do outside of work. I'm pleased to show these pictures below, and I'm really proud of this body of work. I also burned some silver on each of them to a tune of 6 rolls of film that I haven't had an opportunity to process yet, but those will be coming soon.
I hope you'll visit the Eddy House website and learn more about the services and mission they are providing to those who need them in Reno, and maybe will inspire you to support that mission somehow. If you aren't in the Reno area maybe it will inspire you to find out if there is a local non-profit helping the homeless youth where you live!