| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter Youtube RSS Feed

Development News

A different kind of West Side story

Shelly Campbell, a local photographer, is interested in faces, especially those in her neighborhood.

That’s what inspired her to start her ongoing project “Faces of the West Side,” in late 2010. “I realized with the West Side, I don’t need to travel. I have the world at my fingertips,” she says.   

Her color portraits of people in the neighborhood are part of a rotating exhibit at Jerabek’s New Bohemian, a coffee shop in St. Paul.

The photos reflect the neighborhood’s diversity, showing people of all ages, ethnicities, and income levels. Some are recognizable characters in the neighborhood, while others are people she might not have met otherwise.

Often, people get referred to her. At times, she’s had to find someone to act as an interpreter for non-English speakers. She’s found that “It’s a great way to get to know a lot of people on the West Side,” she says, adding, “I feel privileged. I never thought I’d get to meet or interact with so many.”  

At this point, she’s even seeing some of the same people coming back for another photo, and she tries to document how they’ve changed.

In general, she looks for “images that say something about people,” and seeks the “real person.”

At the coffee shop, she usually displays about 10 photos at once, including some that have been blown up to poster size for more impact, she says. She changes the photos on a quarterly basis, so “Folks have four months of fame,” she says, adding, “Everyone comes in and sees them and they get all excited. The kids get a real trip out of it, which is fun.” In the end, “The photos belong to everyone in the room because it’s them,” she says.

Soon, she plans to apply for grant money to expand the project. “I’d like to do some interviewing or even audio recording during photo shoots,” she says.

Source: Shelly Campbell, photographer
Writer: Anna Pratt

Signup for Email Alerts
Signup for Email Alerts