As a senior at Covenant College, the last eight months of my time on Lookout Mountain were spent working on a senior thesis to represent my time as an Art and Community Development student. To reflect my studies, I chose photojournalism and sound.
Photojournalism has been a constant area of exploration for me which has reflected in my growth as a wedding photographer but most dominantly embodies itself in my love for knowing people's stories and understanding how to use stories as a mode of empathy, restoration, and compassion.
My research served as a way to gain companions and mentors throughout the eight months of preparation to present my senior thesis. My mentors looked like photographers, Camilo Jose Vergara, Gordon Parks, Richard Mosse, and Sally Mann. Coupled with their mentorship were hours of research and conversations in the topics of community development, urban entrepreneurship and inner city development. I also found a close companion in TEDRadio Hour's The Act of Listening . This compelled me to use sound as a way to explore more fully the strengths of photojournalism.
In using sound, I explored listening as one of the five senses not so easily used. We can easily look at something, maybe we can force ourselves to sit down at a table with someone, gladly will we touch and eat someone’s food, but how do we practice humility, patience and vulnerability in asking questions and listening to someone else’s story and possibly learning from it?
Brandon Ellis, the owner of Chatterbox, a Chattanooga, TN based BBQ restaurant, agreed to let me walk alongside of him these past couple months as he shared his story, life, observations and hopes for how workforce development and entrepreneurship could be used as a mode for community development in overlooked communities.
His story is one that embodies courage, sacrifice, honesty and a longing to use what he has accomplished to bring success, dignity and work into Chattanooga.
I invite you to look, listen and maybe learn.
Photography: Abigail Whisler
Sound Production: Tucker Krajewski