Back in 2011, I was hired by the Shriver Report to document families dealing with a loved one who suffered from Alzheimer’s. It was a fulfilling and special assignment for me to shoot. This past year, Maria Shriver and editor-in-chief Karen Skelton asked me to work on their most recent endeavor, “The Shriver Report – A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back From the Brink.” The photography part of this report was to play a bigger role – Maria wanted the images to be as dynamic and iconic as Dorthea Lange’s images from the Great Depression……..no pressure there! We discussed many ways to bring the report to life with photos. I had the idea to contract women photojournalists to document the women subjects around the country. Knowing I had a lot riding on my shoulders to make this project a success, I called on some of the top women photographers that I know – Barbara Ries, Jan Sonnenmair, Ami Vitale, Melissa Farlow, Callie Shell and Melissa Lyttle.
With the help of Shriver Report super star Alli Maloney, who managed the project by teaming each photographer up with a subject identified by local agencies/non-profits around the country, each of us set out to photograph women struggling to make it all work. Women who are raising families, working jobs, going to school, managing finances, doing everything to survive and make it all work in this economy. We photographed subjects in South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Arizona, Illinois, Florida, California, Washington and Montana.
I knew each of these photographers could take this assignment and come back with strong, emotionally powerful, wonderful photojournalistic images. Nobody let me down! Here is a video introducing the report, with a slide show of some of the wonderful images.
The Shriver Report launched in January 2014 with a big event at the Newseum in Washington DC, hosted by the Atlantic. It was streamed live all day with incredible speakers including Nancy Pelosi, Maria Shriver, Deepak Chopra, Neera Tanden and uh…..me. The event included a photo exhibit with 44 framed images from the seven women photographers on the project. You can see the entire day’s event here.
There have been so many events and press surrounding the Shriver Report, too many to mention on the blog. A couple of highlights include a program and photo exhibit at the California Museum in Sacramento, CA, and the HBO documentary “Paycheck to Paycheck, The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert.” produced by Maria Shriver and Sheila Nevins. Read more about the documentary here.
After Maria Shriver presented President Barack Obama with a copy of the Shriver Report, he was so impressed that he asked one of our photo subjects, Sabrina Jenkins (photography by Callie Shell) to sit in the President’s box with the First Lady during his State of the Union speech on January 28, 2014. A few weeks later, both Katrina Gilbert and Julie Kaas (two of my subjects) joined President Obama at the White House and stood behind him as he signed an executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contractors. Lots of exciting and wonderful moments have resulted from “The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back From the Brink.”
I was fortunate to photograph subjects in several cities including Chicago, IL, Chattanooga, TN and Tacoma, WA. The photos published on this blog were all taken by me. To see more work by the other six women photographers, click the online galleries on the Shriver Report website.
Thank you Maria Shriver for making this project happen, bringing attention to the many women on the brink in this country and for being such a powerful and strong voice – I admire you so much. Special thanks to all of the photographers Callie, Barb, Ami, Melissa, Melissa and Jan – it was such a pleasure to work with you and edit your amazing images, and to three people who were incredibly helpful and supportive to me during the project – Karen Skelton, Sascha Weiss and Allison Maloney.
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