'A Snapshot of These Strange Times': A Photographer's Portraits Of Greeley
Life has changed quickly for many Coloradans over the last few months. Woody Myers, a professional photographer, decided that instead of simply watching the change as it goes by, he would start documenting it.
Normally, Myers is the staff photographer at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. This spring, however, the campus is mostly empty. The usual springtime events, including graduation, have all been canceled. So, Myers turned his attention to a personal photography project, something he’s calling “Community Captures.” He joined Colorado Edition to talk about that work.
These interview highlights have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Henry Zimmerman: You’ve taken some of your photographic interest off campus and into the community of Greeley with this photo project you’re working on. Tell us more about that.
Woody Myers: When people had to start staying indoors, there weren’t very many campus photography requests — students weren’t in classrooms, professors weren’t professing. So I had an idea to take some photos of some business owners in the Greeley community. I was successful at doing a couple of those, but quickly the project changed, and I ended up taking photos of people in the community.
I started a gallery on Facebook, just for the fun of it. The word got out and I started to receive a lot of requests. So, over the past three weeks I’ve been visiting people from a safe distance — they’re on their porch, I’m usually in the street or sitting on the ground somewhere — and I take their portraits. It’s a way for me to continue photographing.
I imagine even just the sitting down and taking a photo – the experience is radically different today than it was three months ago…
Absolutely. The way it works, folks will step out on their porch, or somewhere outside their house, and I’m usually about 30 feet away from them. I’m using a very long lens so I can zoom in, and it looks like I’m right up next to them. It only takes a few minutes. Under normal circumstances, I would typically bring different lenses to capture images at different angles, different lighting situations. But this project is a little bit different because it’s pretty much all one angle and focal length.
Tell us about some of the people you’ve met.
Well, I’ve met some complete strangers, and it’s been wonderful. I actually photographed a girl’s 8th birthday party parade. That was a lot of fun. Some people get dressed up — and just about everybody grabs a pet if they have one nearby. It allows me to capture a snapshot of these strange times we’re in right now.
You grew up in Greeley , and I assume over the years, you’ve observed a lot of change as this part of Colorado has grown, especially in the last decade or so. What does it feel like to see Greeley shut down the way it is now?
After making appointments with people over the internet or through text, I drive to an area of Greeley or Evans or around the community and see their smiling faces when they come out of their house. I give them a big wave and a smile, and everybody’s really appreciative of it. So it’s been a really interesting way to see people and meet people in the community.
This conversation is part of KUNC’s Colorado Edition for April 28. You can find the full episode here.