Photographer JJ Tiziou is generally a positive guy. But one thing does get on his nerves: when people say they're not photogenic. So Tiziou, who's known for "How Philly Moves," which wrapped the airport parking garages with murals based on his photos of Philadelphia dancers, is setting out to prove them wrong. His next big idea? Photograph 1,000 Philadelphians, in 10 photo sessions of 100 people each, and raise around $100,000 to show the images on billboards in the city.
"I've been asked to photograph people in a lot of places, and I've never found one that wasn't beautiful, whether it's the person onstage or the stage hand. But there are always people who tell me they're not photogenic," Tiziou says. "It frustrated me to the point that I wrote up this manifesto and purchased the domain name everyoneisphotogenic.com." He points out that photogenic literally means "to emanate light."
"I think all of us can bring light into our own lives and into the lives of the people around us. But there's a whole lot of stuff in society that tries to dim that down and tell us we're not worthy."
His antidote for that self-deprecation is the plan to offer mass portraiture sessions for a cross section of Philadelphians. He recently did a sort of pilot session in his studio to work out the kinks in the process (and learned lessons like, "If you're going to be taking 100 photos in a row, it's a good idea to stop and stretch every now and then"). Each participant was shot in the same light and space, and got a free download of their portrait to keep. He hopes the photo sessions will lead to new connections and even friendships, and plans to put the portraits into a traveling light box display that participants can view while they wait for their close-ups.
First, though, there's the minor matter of raising $100,000. Tiziou plans to run a Kickstarter campaign beginning in the next week or two. Since he's done two successful Kickstarter efforts in the past, including raising more than $25,000 for "How Philly Moves," so he's optimistic it will be a success.
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