Blog
New Eyes

A mentor once told me that before photographing people in a new place it was best to start by photographing the geography around them. I recently have moved from Bloomington, Indiana back to my native southern Illinois. In an effort to photograph this very familiar place with fresh eyes, I am doing just that, focusing my eye on the land. I am exploring what surrounds the people here in hopes that it will help me better understand them. This will take some time but I will be sure to continue to share these fresh views.

Storm clouds pass over a soybean field Aug. 10, 2015, near Chester, Ill. – Isaac Smith

Storm clouds pass over a soybean field Aug. 10, 2015, near Chester, Ill. – Isaac Smith

Evansville, Ill., Aug. 10, 2015. – Isaac Smith

Evansville, Ill., Aug. 10, 2015. – Isaac Smith

Downtown Evansville, Ill. – Isaac Smith

Downtown Evansville, Ill. – Isaac Smith

A tree leans on ashed Aug. 18, 2015 in Evansville, Ill. – Isaac Smith

A tree leans on a shed Aug. 18, 2015 in Evansville, Ill. – Isaac Smith

Clouds billow above Steeleville, Ill. Aug. 12, 2015. – Isaac Smith

Clouds billow above Steeleville, Ill. Aug. 12, 2015. – Isaac Smith


Jessica Tezak

jessica_headshot_web

Jessica is a photojournalist currently based in Knoxville, Tenn. Photography helps her to exercise her curiosity for the world and the other people in it. It helps her to appreciate and observe small pieces of life that are easy to overlooked. She keeps coming back to photography because it helps her to  understand other people’s lives and actions, and thinking that way has helped her grow as a person, something she never wants to stop. She makes photos to share that knowledge and appreciation with other people.

www.jesstezak.com


Emily Massey, 2, of Anna, Illinois, hugs her baby doll in her grandmother Flossy Leonard’s kitchen where she lives with her mother, Ashley Dixon ,17, and her father, Lee Massey. Dixon said she stopped going to school in order to take care of Emily.“ I miss her just leaving her with the babysitter,” Dixon said, “I try not to do that, but I miss school because of my friends and stuff.” Dixon hopes to get her G.E.D. after Emily gets older so she can become a nurse.

Emily Massey, 2, of Anna, Illinois, hugs her baby doll in her grandmother Flossy Leonard’s kitchen Sept. 7, 2012, where she lives with her mother, Ashley Dixon ,17, and her father, Lee Massey. Dixon said she stopped going to school in order to take care of Emily.“ I miss her just leaving her with the babysitter,” Dixon said, “I try not to do that, but I miss school because of my friends and stuff.” Dixon hopes to get her G.E.D. after Emily gets older so she can become a nurse.

Mike DeDecker, from left, JuJu Kizeart both of Carbondale, Illinois, and Tequire Lawrence, of Chicago hang out during the Mike T. Basketball Tournament in June 2012 at Attucks Park in Carbondale, Illinois. DeDecker and Kizeart played on the winning team in the adult division of the tournament, which is held every year in honor of DeDecker's father who died in a car accident in 2010. Attucks Park serves as a gathering place for young people in Carbondale's Northeast side. Cleveland Matthews, a lifetime resident of the Northeast side, said that his neighborhood is viewed with a bad reputation because of drugs and violence. "I've raised three kids here, we've had no scares,” Matthews said, “I hate for them to condemn my side of town, it's a good neighborhood."

Mike DeDecker, from left, JuJu Kizeart both of Carbondale, Illinois, and Tequire Lawrence, of Chicago hang out during the Mike T. Basketball Tournament in June 2012 at Attucks Park in Carbondale, Illinois. DeDecker and Kizeart played on the winning team in the adult division of the tournament, which is held every year in honor of DeDecker’s father who died in a car accident in 2010. Attucks Park serves as a gathering place for young people in Carbondale’s Northeast side. Cleveland Matthews, a lifetime resident of the Northeast side, said that his neighborhood is viewed with a bad reputation because of drugs and violence. “I’ve raised three kids here, we’ve had no scares,” Matthews said, “I hate for them to condemn my side of town, it’s a good neighborhood.”

Jill Ushie, of Stoke On Trent, stares at her fiance Ian Lockhart's mug shot before she goes to bed Oct. 28 2012 at the Hospitality House in Chester, Ill. Ushie had been writing to her fiance for two years, this visit was the first time she had ever met him, or any of the the other women at the Hospitality House in person. The Hospitality House offers overnight accommodations to prisoner families.

Jill Ushie, of Stoke On Trent, stares at her fiance Ian Lockhart’s mug shot before she goes to bed Oct. 28 2012 at the Hospitality House in Chester, Ill. Ushie had been writing to her fiance for two years, this visit was the first time she had ever met him, or any of the the other women at the Hospitality House in person. The Hospitality House offers overnight accommodations to prisoner families.


The Midwest Is My Culture
photo by Genna Souffle

photo by Genna Souffle

The rural midwest is my culture. As I grew up, took on internships, and lived in cities and small towns both, I grew to be jealous of those with identifiable cultural backgrounds, with traditions and foods and identifiable markers of where they came from. As a European mutt, neither side of my family celebrated any particular cultural heritage, and that used to make me feel like I was missing something. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that I do have a place I am from, a home I carry with me, and it is fields like these I passed in northern Illinois, coming back from my grandparents’ family farm in Iowa, where my husband and I had just watched my grandmother ride in a float for her 65th high school reunion during the town’s annual Western Days. Some days I may lament how flat it is, the lack of apparent diversity in flora and fauna, how uninteresting the people can seem. But those are the days I’m not looking closely enough. Fields of corn and beans, silos like city skylines, lilies in the ditches and a sky-wide view of the summer rainstorm rolling in – the midwest will always be home.

Genna Souffle is a photo editor at the Tribune Content Agency in Chicago. A recent transplant to the city, she loves returning to her roots whenever possible, whether the visits are virtual through photography or in the occasional trip back home.