Iman Music is a senior Marketing major in the Business and Entrepreneurship department. She and Leah Schiffman, a student at the University of Minnesota, developed a photo series over the summer. Residents of Rogers Park captures the diversity of the neighborhood and its residents through photography and storytelling. We talked to Iman about the development of the project and her experience working on it.
What inspired this photography series?
Leah and I both grew up in Rogers Park together and noticed how special the neighborhood was when we both started high school in different neighborhoods. Leah had brought the idea up to me a few years ago and we never really started it until she came back to Chicago when schools shutdown due to Covid. We met up for a socially distant picnic and she brought the idea up again! I was in the mood for a creative project, so I pushed her to start, and from there we began planning what it would look like and actually brainstormed the name before we even knew what it would look like! We just wanted to capture how special this neighborhood is and allow others to get a glimpse of it in a time where they maybe couldn’t come visit it.
Have you faced any challenges while trying to meet people and conduct interviews during the pandemic?
Surprisingly, no! We initially launched a Google Form which got us our first 15ish interviews. We made it clear everything would be outdoors & socially distant so participants were aware ahead of time. Luckily, we had the weather on our side and were able to get our first 30 interviews in the summer. We would approach people at parks/beaches etc. with masks on and always keep way more than 6 feet away. I feel like because of Covid and the lack of social interaction, more people were willing to talk and share their story.
What have you learned at Columbia College Chicago that has influenced this project?
Columbia really gave me the tools/confidence to execute this project. Every marketing/business class was very hands on and real-world which helped me gain a confidence that allowed me to dive head first in this project. We release the photos and stories through our Instagram page and my digital media/social media classes really gave me the knowledge on how to create effective content, track insights, and put creative ideas into motion. Overall, I feel like Columbia has taught me how to take a creative idea and shape and mold it into something tangible that you can share with others.
What is next for Residents of Rogers Park?
We plan to take a two-week break for the holidays which we will announce soon on our page! We have more stories to share and are reimagining the photoseries for the winter time. We hope to put out another Google Form to get more participants and do interviews over Zoom. Our photographer will be able to snap photos of people quickly in chosen locations (socially distant) over the winter, but since it’ll be cold, the interviews will be virtual! Overall, we just want to keep finding ways to highlight our community and support it as well.
How can people follow the project?
@residentsofrogerspark is our Instagram and for now we don’t have a website, but might in the near future (stay tuned)!