It’s all about who we are. That is kind of how my version of the A Portrait a Day Project began. Our history is rich, and full of factual information about the times. There are countless people that make history, but there are even more that are affected by those in the positions of power that carry on with their daily lives in most cases undocumented. My project is simply to put a face on at least 365 of those in our community whom we may never otherwise meet or see.

This project was actually born in the years during and following the Great Depression—at which time the photographers of the Farm Security Administration traveled the country placing faces on those affected by the depression in a focused effort to give them a voice. The battles between the political parties at that time were in so many ways as divided as they are today, and surprisingly enough the arguments were quite similar. The public attitudes and arguments toward illegal immigration and its effect on the American labor force were as strong then as they are today. Please note that I am not taking sides only referencing our history.

In the 1930’s there was also a man made disaster that came in the form of dust storms that created the dust bowl, which stretched from the Texas panhandle to Southern North Dakota. Those storms were the result of killing off the buffalo, pulling the prairie grasses and overworking the land for profit. Washington then as now was not prepared to deal with such a disaster, but the cause was found as well as resolution. As of this writing resolution is being sought in the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which in one way or another will affect us all.

The economic parallels along with other social issues made me think of what America really looks like today, how it would be to revisit the FSA photo project, but the country has grown considerably and it seemed to be a rather ambitious and tough sell. So, as I tell my students of photography, “narrow your focus”. I narrowed mine and decided to introduce the population of Indianapolis to some of their neighbors. Some in prominent positions will of course be easily recognized, others obviously will not. My hope is that you give them a look, because we are all interconnected, and while you may not know their faces they may have made or possibly will make a difference in your life.

I will take pictures of someone from our city each day for a year. There will be exceptions, which will occur when I have scheduled absences from the city, and those portraits will be photographed prior to my departure but posted daily.


John R. Gentry, Jr., Photographer
June 1, 2010

This website was designed and developed by Steve Hodges and John R. Gentry, Jr.