As a former Chicago Tribune photojournalist, I created Save Local Businesses: West Town to keep our small businesses alive and in the public eye during Chicago’s statewide stay-at-home order as a response to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

My staff and interns had fled Chicago, schools and restaurants were empty, everyone around us closed their businesses and my first photograph for the series, Chris Hunt from Seek Vintage, created a passion project that flooded my social media with the faces behind our locked doors.

I photographed fifty-four business owners outside their shuttered businesses and used one camera, one lens, one light and no assistant, which was a bit of a challenge as I rarely shoot without one. I wore gloves and masks and photographed everyone outside of their shops, terrified to spend more than five minutes per shoot as we were still learning about Covid-19 and were months away from the first available vaccines.

Two years later, I am so excited to photograph everyone inside their businesses! My first series of photographs focused on the business owner and their signage, the combination of punchy colors and blue skies kept each photograph consistent and flowing throughout the series. Now that I can finally photograph indoors, I chose multiple lights and colored gels to create moody portraits that blend well together.

I am so grateful to these local shop owners for opening their doors to me, once again. Please check out the full series on my Instagram @CusicPhoto.

Thank you for following this project and thank you for doing what you can to Save Local Businesses!

Did you participate in this project? Please fill out the form below and we will contact you!

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