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March 2013

1005 Faces by Sarah Brooke Lyons / The Rivard Report


By Rivard Report Staff : March 25, 2013

Local photographer Sarah Brooke Lyons.

Local photographer Sarah Brooke Lyons.

Sarah Brooke Lyons: 1005 Faces was created to showcase the diversity of San Antonio through the faces and thoughts of our community, and in doing so provide a clear image of what our San Antonio really looks like. I want to bring together the innovators, creatives, and any other awesome people in our city to celebrate and explore the future of San Antonio – away from the stereotypes of River Walk and margaritas. I’m looking forward to a future where San Antonio is seen as a cosmopolitan, multicultural epicenter with eclectic people looking to create an awesome place to live.

After spending 10 days photographing various multicultural events with DreamWeek San Antonio (a production of DreamVoice LLC), I was excited to continue their vision. I want to celebrate the incredible people here! 1005 Faces is a collaborative art project as it can only be created by the coming together of friends and strangers to create the full scope, and fulfill the goal of photographing 1005 distinct faces.

RR: Some of these folks are people the general public can recognize – local celebrities, some may only be recognized by friends and family. What criteria/thought process do you use when deciding who to photograph?

SBL: When all 1,005 faces have been photographed, I want to be able to show a very diverse group of faces, styles, ages, ethnicities, and ideas of the San Antonio community. I’ve begun by partnering with individuals who have similar visions for the city, and extending into their social network. Along with individuals, I have reached out to other various organizations, restaurants, coffee shops, and generally cool businesses that are making San Antonio incredible, and showcasing the faces associated with those groups.

Founding Partner and Creative Director of The MightyGroup and Dream Week President and Co-founder San Antonio Shokare Nikori Nakpodia.

Founding Partner and Creative Director of The MightyGroup and Dream Week President and Co-founder San Antonio Shokare Nikori Nakpodia.

I hope to be able to document some of the refugee population, more of the aging population, and a more niche interests groups. The best part of the project so far has been the great conversation I have had, and interesting people I have met. I have enjoyed keeping the sessions to small groups so that I can take my time getting to know people with each portrait.

[On April 6, during First Friday festivities, DreamVoice will be hosting a gathering for Sarah to capture more San Antonio faces at 1160 E. Commerce Suite 200. Check out the Facebook event page.]

RR: What’s the endgame – what message do you hope people will take away from this collection?

SBL: I would like to culminate the project with large-scale public art pieces located throughout the city giving a more tangible representation of the vision that San Antonio is innovative and interesting and fill of awesome people. I hope that through this project people will be able to look at the city through a different lens, beyond the typical cliché’s associated with San Antonio.

In our city we have so many incredible people doing interesting things, but there is very little unification to these efforts. When we think of art in San Antonio, the general association is with downtown, or Blue Star, but all over the city there are people are creating and innovating. This project is a visual reminder of the great number of people here that are instrumental in the direction our city is headed, and hopefully it will unify some of these efforts.

RR: Why black and white?

SBL: I want the photos to be very unified and consistent. Photographing in black and white takes away any distraction that color may play, and allows you to focus on the person’s face and their message. I also had a mug shot in mind for the composition, and wanted to stay with that feel. A very straight forward representation of self.

#52, Byrdie Franco. Photo by Sarah Brooke Lyons.

#52, Byrdie Franco. Photo by Sarah Brooke Lyons.

RR: What’s the significance of the accompanying words?

SBL: I give very little guidance in what to put on the sign, because I want each person’s interpretation to be unique. As a community art piece, I want everyone to have a say in contributing what they believe their sign should like. By having no guidelines, I have a true reflection of a diversity of thoughts and ideas, not just faces. I have found it fascinating the different ways that people want to be able to contribute their statement. Some people best express themselves with a drawing, others see it as on opportunity to leave a profound message, and others just want to be funny or ironic.
RR: Why 1,005? Why not 1,000?

SBL: Because 1006 is too much, and 1000 isn’t enough.

RR: How many photos do you have so far? How long do you expect it will take to get all 1,005?

SBL: I’ve photographed around 200 so far in about a month’s time. I expect to be done by the end of the year, if not sooner – but I am putting absolutely no deadline on it. I want to be able to really enjoy the experience of meeting new people and having great conversations.

RR: Is there anyone in particular that you’d like to photograph in the future?

SBL: Mayor Julian Castro, and his brother Joaquin Castro, David Robinson, Pastor Max Lucado and his wife Denalyn, Bill Greehy, George Strait, Gordan Hartman, Jason Dady, Andrew Weisman, and a few of the Spurs. There are also a few groups I would love to have represented such as the refugees here in town and members of the military.

RR: Photography is your full time job – a position that is difficult to achieve for many young photographers. How did you develop your craft/business?

SBL: As a single parent I think sheer necessity for survival and absolute passion have given me no other option than to work as hard as I possibly can. I studied photography at San Antonio College, and finished up my associates degree there. After I had my daughter, I went back to school to become a teacher, and began photographing as a part-time job to get through school.

Homes in Burkina Faso. Photo by Sarah Brooke Lyons.

Homes in Burkina Faso. Photo by Sarah Brooke Lyons.

By the time I finished my degree I realized that teaching was not for me, and went into photography full force. I’ve worked incredibly hard since then, taking every job I could. I’ve worked for other photographers as assistants, second shooters, and photo editors. I’ve stayed up all night editing, and responding to emails. I’ve just generally been working really hard for quite a while, and don’t intend to stop working really hard until my dreams become my reality.
RR: What’s the (technically) hardest photograph you’ve ever taken?

SBL: The most difficult technical shots for me are product photography involving glass or particularly shiny surfaces. They are just really hard to light correctly. I’ve learned to pass these along to other photographers, and stick to the people shots.
RR: What’s the (emotionally) hardest photograph you’ve ever taken?

SBL: The hardest photos I’ve taken emotionally were from a trip to Burkina Faso, Africa. I wanted to effectively convey the desperation and urgency of the situation of the people there, but didn’t want to create photos that elicited pity and showcased the typical “starving orphan” image.

Boys relax in the shade in a village in Burkina Faso. Photo by Sarah Brooke Lyons.

Boys relax in the shade in a village in Burkina Faso. Photo by Sarah Brooke Lyons.

There was a joy and beauty among the people of Burkina Faso, and they held within themselves such strength and humanity, and I wanted all of that to come through in my images. It also made me feel like I wasn’t doing enough, and that left me with new-found sense of determination to shine a light into the darkness through photography. This lit a fire in me to find a way to document and effectively convey the needs of others in hope of lighting this passion in the hearts of those who can help.
RR: How can people get a hold of you? [website, email, FB, twitter etc?]



The project itself is up on Facebook at 1005 Faces.

They can also find me on facebook at Sarah Brooke Lyons or Sarah Brooke Photography.