Saturday, January 22, 2011

Day 387

ISO 100, 102mm, f/8.0, 1/200 sec

Day 387 - Meet Tommylyn

Don Giannetti of Lighting Essentials is doing this fabulous 52 week photo project that I have joined (anyone is welcome to join at anytime). The assignment this week is a portrait of a stranger and here are the rules:
  • - The person should be unknown to you.
  • - It can be a street portrait, studio portrait or environmental portrait.
  • - The portrait should be simply lit.
  • - Tell us a little bit about the person – through the image and the caption.
  • - Tell us how you approached and worked with the subject(s) for the project.
I was a little apprehensive at first, but this project really rocked.

Tommylyn is one of Salem's street advertisers and I have watched her stand on the corner waving and smiling at the traffic as they drove by. I love her enthusiasm, she really is a ray of sunshine. I have seen her so many times, she almost didn't feel like a stranger.

I was lucky to have the winter sun work it's magic for the lighting. When I walked up to her and ask to take her portrait, she was more than happy to do it. I stepped back and told her to work the crowd like she always does, because that is how I see her.

I stepped back, she put her headphones back in place and began singing gospel music to her mp3 player strumming her sign as if it were a guitar.

After several images, I went back to ask a few questions. Five years ago she sobered up and got clean. She is a former crystal meth addict shooting up everyday, several times a day and was in and out of jail. She gives all of the credit to getting sober to God. She says he gives her the strength and the energy to sing and dance as a street advertiser every day.

She loves being a testament to "yes there is life after meth." She never believed that she would have a relationship with her family, especially her sister, that she would have a job and even a beautiful apartment.

Tommylyn is a delightful lady.


  1. Wow, what a story... bravo to you for taking the time and mustering up the courage to a approach this woman! The stories that are out there are truly amazing!

  2. Great photograph and story. Good job and have fun with Don's project. He's great.

  3. Congratulations. It's a great photo and story.

  4. Amazing! The story and the image. Congrats on having the courage to approach this project.

  5. This is awesome! Beautiful light and capture, what a wonderful experience! super job and hats off to you for doing this!

  6. Great story, photograph and subject. Thanks for sharing