spacerJeff and Love, Love
Portraits of Trinity, 2017 - Present

Portraits of Trinity documents the members and volunteers of the Trinity Center, a non-residential program serving homeless and working poor adult men and women in Walnut Creek and Central Contra Costa County. 

This project has by far been one of my most fulfilling projects to date. One of my main goals with this work is to disrupt people’s expectations and stereotypes. Every single person featured in my photographs for this project reads as a person first—because they are. Their socio-economic status is not present; the only reason you might even think they’re homeless or marginally housed is by diving into the writing and reading further.

I am always looking for ways to show how our humanity intersects, and to give people a platform to tell some part of their story. Maybe it’s simply a gaze—how they are staring out at you from a portrait. Maybe it’s their posture, their composure. Maybe it’s the writing you read alongside a portrait. Maybe it's all of it.

To read more about this project, scroll to the bottom of the page.
The story behind this project:

From its first iteration this project has evolved and taken on a life of its own. It started simple—I was given the opportunity to set up a portrait workshop with the clients and staff at Trinity Center. In this workshop I set up a station for folks to write a little something about themselves, answering open ended questions like ‘what do you want people to know about you?’ and 'what's your favorite place?'.

My initial intention with the workshop was to allow space for others to be photographers. After about 20 minutes it became apparent that the writing station was working well, and asking folks to photograph wasn’t. At that point I pivoted—I picked up my camera, and using the writing station as an ice breaker, I was able to meet and get to know folks as they granted me permission to take their portraits.

From this first workshop, the project quickly turned into something else. After more portrait and writing sessions, and with the support of the Center for Community Arts, I was able to put on a show of the works in Walnut Creek City Hall. The show hung outside the Walnut Creek City Council Chambers, so we planned the opening and closing dates intentionally around Walnut Creek City Council meetings, with the hopes of sparking conversations about often ignored issues of homelessness in the community.

The project exposed a need for a creative writing class at Trinity Center, and they were able to add an incredible creative writing teacher, Emily Dezurick-Badran. We then worked together to create the next iteration of the project–an anthology of writing by the Trinity Center clients alongside portraits. We applied for and received funding from Walnut Creek Civic Pride Foundation as well as the Community Arts Foundation. The first anthology features poems and short stories by 7 writers who attended the creative writing classes. The second anthology, published this past year, features 13 writers.

I feel lucky to say this project is ongoing. Despite the pandemic, we are still collecting stories, and I look forward to soon returning to make more portraits.