In 2015, I was asked by real estate firm Elfant Wissahickon to come to an organization in Germantown to take a photo of the (its) partners presenting a check (to a local business). I packed up my gear and headed out on a very hot day in May.
As I backed out of the driveway, I noticed the landscapers had missed a huge area of mulch and had done a sloppy job of cutting the grass. I then stopped to get a coffee and to fill up my car with gas and started on a journey that I thought would last about 45 minutes.
I arrived at an old community center in the Germantown section of Philadelphia and sat in my car waiting to see a familiar face. Once I saw the real estate partners, I locked my car and headed up the stairs that lead to a sign that read FACE TO FACE. We were greeted by the director, Mary Kay, who lead us down the hall and then into the dining room where I would set up. Distracted by the task at hand, I began to set up my gear, paying little heed to my surroundings. I composed the photo which would soon show the giving and receiving of the generous 30,000.00 check.
With these preparations finished, I looked around Face to Face for the first time. I saw the dining room filled with staff, volunteers and clients. I was amazed to see that just a few miles from my home was such a vibrant community of people actively supporting and being supported by each other.
I arrived back home but couldn’t get this organization and the people I met that day out of my thoughts. It made the minor inconveniences that in my life feel all the more trivial. A few days later I began to research more about Face to Face. I learned that Face to Face isn’t just a meal service; they offer many services, from counseling to health care and legal help. Their philosophy was beautifully explained by their powerful mission statement: “Face to Face works to meet the basic human needs and reduce the suffering of those in our community. With hospitality we provide a safe environment and practical tools, which enable people in Germantown to confront personal challenges, empower their lives, and fulfill their unique potential.”
Time passed and then in March 2016, through sheer coincidence, I happened to watch Mary Kay Meeks on the local news. She ended the interview by saying a phrase that has stuck with me: The Nobility of the Common Person. It gave me an idea. I wanted to take some photos of the people of Face to Face so that this organization could use sell them at their annual fundraiser, a donation of sorts. I reached out to Mary Kay and we went back and forth for a few weeks trying to organize it. For a number of reasons, it seemed like it just wasn’t going to work out. Weeks lead to months and this project fell to the bottom of the to do list.
New years Day 2017, I ran into Bob Elfant and we chatted about Face to Face. He urged me to follow up again. This time, the circumstances needed to make this project happen were right. As it has grown to fruition, this project has become incredibly impactful and important to me. I hope you enjoy this collection of images, The Nobility of the Common Person.
If you are interested in making a donation to Face to Face please visit this link: