Two Covers in One Day

Last Thursday was a remarkable day for me, because I had work on the front of two different local publications. The first was the cover of Mpls. St. Paul Magazine, which is the first time I’d worked with them, and also the first time I’ve had a magazine cover. Their creative director contacted me, asking if they could license one of my photos for their May issue. Initially we discussed a different photo, but finally they settled on one of my photos of the Mills District in Minneapolis, shot from the Stone Arch Bridge. I remember taking this picture so clearly, because it was just after the sun had risen, and the light on the buildings was beautiful. You can see the original photo here.

Thursday was also the day that the Star Tribune published a story about my ongoing Family Resemblance project. Sharyn Jackson, a writer for the Strib, came out to observe me shooting one morning in early April. She brought along a photographer, Matt Weber, and they both hung out for a couple of hours as I photographed people for the project. Sharyn also interviewed me and a few of the families I photographed for her story.

It was really fun when they posted the story online, which happened the day before it came out in the paper. My phone started lighting up, as friends saw the story, and reposted it, tagging me and writing sweet comments. One of the great things about the article is that they included 32 photos from the project, which gave a good cross-section of people I’ve photographed over the past 7 months. And as more people read the story, they signed up to participate in the project; about 40 groups of people signed up in 48 hours. I’m going to be busy over the next several weeks!

The next morning, when the printed version of the paper actually came out, I was speechless when I saw it, because the article was the entire front page of the Variety section. I had thought they’d put one or two photos in the paper, and use the rest online, so I was flabbergasted when I saw what they had done. And then I started hearing from people in the photos, letting me know that all their friends were tagging and texting them, saying “You’re famous!”

All that was amazing, but perhaps the most meaningful thing to come out of the press coverage was the emails I got from other people who were also adopted. Several people wrote to me, telling me that they’d seen the story and were touched by my project.

“I am 58 and adopted and I felt the same as you, always wanted to see someone that looks like me. That pain was somewhat relieved when I had a child and everyone said she looked like me,” wrote Deb Deutsch. Another person, Mary Walde emailed, “I too am adopted. I have always yearned to know who I look like. Who had dark hair like mine? Whose nose did I have? You know all the questions I am referring to.” She continued:

“When I became a mother I so hoped that my son would look like me….As my son and I have grown older, I think our resemblance has faded somewhat. After all, I am a senior citizen now and my son is a man in his mid-thirties. But the joy of seeing his high school senior picture next to one of me at the same age never fades. We are kin. You can see it in our faces. What a gift.”

Don’t mind me. I’m the one over here in tears, reading emails from total strangers who were moved enough by my project to share their stories with me. That is also a gift.