When Photo Projects Are Personal
“Neighbors” is a personal project, grown out of the need to stay creatively engaged in photography as well as to prevent burn out in the industry. But it isn't John Mireles' first long term photography project.
A few years ago he drove from southern California all the way to North Dakota, to discover and photograph oil workers in the Bakken oil fields. At the culmination of that project, Mireles published a book called The Bakken.
It's impressive work, no doubt, but I imagine they weren't easy to produce. Persuasion, charm, efficiency and professionalism perhaps were all factors in aiding John's efforts on that trip. And he is feeling that itch to get on the road again.
This time, he started photographing his neighbors in San Diego. He wants to continue setting up studios in different locations across the US, to photograph even more people; giving them a face and a voice to express themselves.
Take for example this striking portrait of Chuco that John created at Chicano Park Day in San Diego.
Mireles writes about Chuco in his blog:
The gang life lost its importance however, once he began to raise a family. His wife and kids – he has four now – became the focus of his life and he took to it with all the seriousness with which he formerly administered his gang life.
The portrait is one of many Mireles has created. But he doesn't stop there. He prints them and then displays them on his fence for the whole world to see.
Neighbors began as a series of portraits taken on the streets of a lower income community in San Diego. Instead of focusing on attention grabbing characters, I chose as my subjects the everyday people who constitute the backbone of the community. Afterwards, I displayed these tightly cropped portraits at 4 feet by 6 feet in a prominent location available for all to see.
Check out this short documentary about John creating these large portraits:
Again, pretty impressive. All of this as you can imagine takes a fair share of financial resources. This is where he needs our help. He has set up a fundraising campaign that will help him finance this new project. Having seen his previous accomplishments and what he is able to produce, I have no doubt that the “Neighbors” project when completed will become a historical document as this country goes through massive changes in its demographics.
A few weeks back, John and I got together to chat about “Neighbors” and how he plans to pursue it. Give this interview a listen:
For those who do support this project, John is offering a signed magazine that will most definitely become a collector's item.
Support The Neighbors Project
If you have scrolled down this far, you know that John Mireles is creative and resourceful. As an artist who engages so successfully with his community, John needs our timely support to continue and complete “Neighbors”.
Can I count on you to support him? Click this link to make your donation, however big or small, now.