Empathy and Photojournalism

Empathy and Photojournalism

Joliet Boxing Club.

One of the greatest joys of my photography career has been to meet and document the lives of an incredible variety of people. During my tenure as a staff photographer for a suburban Chicago newspaper, I created a project to document downtown Joliet, IL. The industrial city, located in the Southwest suburbs of Chicago was struggling to revive its historic downtown, as newer parts of the city expanded under a large housing boom. My goal was to show the value of a downtown area, where a diverse population of people worked together. Each week over the course of a year I would interview and photograph a subject who lived or worked in this area.

As a person who grew up in a similar town, and whose family owned a business, I found myself having a lot of empathy for the people who lived in this area. This empathy drove the success of the project, as many of the paper’s readers could identify with the struggles they saw in the images. The project was published weekly over the course of a year.

I believe a great UX designer is driven to understand the circumstances of others, and through that, develops successful solutions.

ROBERT SUMNER / HERALD NEWS STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER 11.17. 04 Joliet Junior College culinary student Val Perkey, of Lemont, is surrounded by a sea of activity as she and fellow classmates prepare for the Joliet Junior College student lunch buffet. The students host the lunch for the public each Wednesday at the Renaissance Center when school is in session. Click on audio to hear the sounds of the lunch being prepared.

Joliet Junior College Culinary School.

Mt. Zion Full Gospel Tabernacle choir practice.

Elsie Yates in the window of Jole Fashion Boutique.

ROBERT SUMNER / HERALD NEWS STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER 08.24.04 Bob Kwasigroch makes an adjustment to an automatic nailer at Andy's Shoe Repair on East Cass Street in Joliet. He started repairing shoes when he was 17. His father, Andy Kwasigroch, started the business at The White Store, shining shoes when he was 15.

Bob Kwasigroch with automatic nailer at Andy’s Shoe Repair.

Baseball stadium vendor.

ROBERT SUMNER / HERALD NEWS STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER 2.19.04 Bob Casanova adjusts the shade as afternoon light floods into his barber shop on Ottawa Street in downtown Joliet. He has been in the same shop for 40 years and a barber in Joliet for 57 years.

Bob Casanova, at the window of his barbershop.