Haile Fellow Chris Glass is a designer whose curiosities led him down a path to explore photography in more depth. His Project PhotoCorps is a collection of programs and events that aim to bring out the photographer in everyone. A major component of the project is a collaborative effort called PhotoScouting which presents 21 photographic tasks in a free guidebook. Participants earn real life patches by submitting photographs. Submissions will be culled into a beautiful printed book. Now, nearly halfway through his fellowship year, we caught up with Chris to hear how his project has evolved.
A spread from the PhotoScouting book, displaying some of the photo challenges.
PhotoScouters earn patches in exchange for submitting photos.
How has this fellowship year impacted you personally and professionally?
I've waken up to the fact that photography is a powerful tool that brings people together. It’s a really amazing way for people to communicate. When I started the fellowship I was kind of in my own world, taking photos and enjoying it, but not seeing how it could connect to others.
I’ve spent my entire life designing in a room, mostly by myself. Now, I don’t want to do that as much. I’ve seen what can happen when I open up my process and allow room for different perspectives. What I don’t want to do at the end of this fellowship is go back in that room and close the door and design on my own again; what I do want to do is create projects that invite people in. There's beauty in that process.
What lessons has the fellowship taught you so far?
I’ve learned a lot about things I never had to know about before, like budgeting, taxes, the legal foundation of things that you make, press releases, etc. So all that's been valuable. But the main thing I'm learning and realizing is that people are the special sauce. There is a serendipitous joy of making something and putting it out there for people to explore and interact with. The Photowalks I've been doing are a great example of this. At the bare minimum, people have come together for a common cause to share something, be that photography, a place or a love for architecture. Having something in common starts to tear down that wall and allow for deeper connections.
What makes your project unique?
There’s something ephemeral about what’s going on with the web, and social media; you "like" something and then it just goes away. For me, the really wonderful part of photography is going back and revisiting; it’s a wonderful aid for memory. I think there’s something to bringing reflection into our everyday visual experience. To regard things, reflect on them, keep them around and hold them sacred is important.
What is the future of PhotoCorps?
I see a number of opportunities moving forward. I think it’s healthy to get outside your home, take a walk, meet new people, and identify new things in your environment that are beautiful, and/or broken. In this way, I can see exploring the idea of using photography as a tool for mental physical, and spiritual health something down the road. For now, I have plenty of Photowalks coming up, patches to send out and a book to design. There’s definitely a way to open up PhotoScouting to other places outside of Cincinnati; that's something I'm interested in exploring as well.
It’s easy to participate: get the free PhotoScouting book. To get reward patches or have your photos included in the printed edition, submit to the PhotoCorps site by December 31st. Follow the project on Facebook for updates, events, and Photowalks.