There are few storytellers I admire more than Preston Gannaway.
I defy anyone to take in her Pulitzer winning project Remember Me and not find yourself blubbing at the computer.
The accompanying photofilm series, that follows Carolynne St. Pierre in the last weeks of her life, is one of the most powerful documents to be found anywhere on the web. It reminds you of the things that are truly important in life.
One of Preston’s latest projects is Teddy Ebony As A Young Man:
‘On the day President Obama made his historic announcement in support of same-sex marriage, Tavaris “Teddy” Edwards turned 22 years old. Though the country struggles over the controversy and difficulty of social change, being gay might be the easiest part of Teddy’s life.
While often conflicted with his identity and direction, he’s comfortable with his sexuality. Ironically, that one trait may be what saves him. He describes his life before coming out as “devious.” “I wanted to be somebody I wasn’t.” He got into fights and dropped out of Oscar Smith high school. Many of his friends from back then are now dead or in prison.
Role models have been hard to come by. His father was killed when Teddy was 2. His stepfather is serving a prison sentence. He has the words “RIP” and “PIG” tattooed to the back of his hands which serve as a memorial to his uncle who died in 2003. In many ways, Teddy’s struggles reflect issues our country has yet to solve.
Teddy lives with his mother and sister in public housing in Chesapeake, Virginia. It’s a place he wants to leave, but finding his way out is not going to be easy.’
Now it would be easy to imagine how many photographers would approach this project. Grainy black and white shots that accentuate the ‘poverty’ of Teddy’s life. No chance of Gannaway taking that route.
The best complement I can pay her is that she’s a photographer whose pictures don’t shout, they listen.
At a candlelight vigil he organized for a friend who died, Teddy, third from left, comforts Anthony Winters.
Punch Ebony, who died of cancer, was part of Teddy’s ballroom family.
The vigil was held in part because Punch’s gay friends were afraid they wouldn’t be welcome at the funeral. At left is Ja’Quan Harvey and Twiggy Garcon.