In Their Shoes

I started this project a little over a year ago for one of my classes, but never got around to posting it. I did a series of portraits combined with shots of a particular pair of shoes belong to the person in the portrait. I also interviewed everyone that I photographed. It was a really fun project and maybe I’ll continue it at some point. Anyway, here it is:

Someone once told me, “You never really know someone until you’ve spent a day in their shoes.” I’ve thought about that, about how people rely on stereotypes and assumptions to tell them who a person is. We judge others based on how they look, what they eat, who they’re with, what they wear – even by the shoes on their feet. Have you every looked at a pair of shoes and thought, “Oh, I know exactly who those belong to?” And maybe you were right. Maybe you did know the type of person who wore those shoes. But maybe you were wrong. This series is an exploration of what something as simple as a pair of shoes does, or does not, say about the person who wears them.

Dennis Romboy, age 45, is a reporter at Deseret Morning News. He is also a softball coach at American Fork High School and serves as a Bishop at church. He was born and raised in the Salt Lake City area in Utah. At one point while growing up, he wanted to be a firefighter or a professional basketball player. Dennis has been married for 23 years to his wife Jill. They have two children, a dog, a cat, and a Russian tortoise. He has always participated in sports. Dennis loves basketball and snowboarding. He began running long distance during the mid 1980s with a good friend. Since that time he has participated in two marathons, mulitple half marathons, 10K races, 5K races, and the Wasatch Back Relay race. Dennis has continued running with friends over the years.

“It’s always good to have a friend to run with. I’ve found that we keep each other going. Like, I know every morning that he’s gonna e at my house at 6 am and if he wasn’t, I would probably just lay in bed… So it’s good to have a running buddy or running partner to keep you going. They’re probably my closest friends that I run with. We talk as a part of running for us… We talk about lots of stuff. And just the running, I like it, it makes me feel good.”

Diane Ellsworth Gourdin, age 72, grew up in Safford, Arizona on a farm outside her Father’s ranch. She was the youngest of four daughters and as a little girl she wanted to be like the 1940s actress Maria Montez. Her favorite color has always been purple, and various shades thereof. She married Melvin E. Gourdin in 1955. They have four children, eighteen grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Diane has traveled all over the world. She has been to Switzerland, France, Italy, Austria, Greece, and England. She and her husband, Mel, also spent 13 months in the Ivory Coast in Africa, where Diane grew to love the African people.

“When I got old, my feet failed and so I have to wear a brace on my left foot and I have neuropathy and I haven’t any feeling in the bottom of my feet, so I had to be very careful about the shoes… and these are the only shoes that can fit me. They’re called ‘crocs.’ They’re ugly. But these are a little bit better than those; that look like monster boots, like Frankenstein shoes. But these, these have class. These have dignity. They have dignity don’t they? I mean there’s just something about blue and white and purple swirl that make you think of queens and princesses and being beautiful when you’re old and wrinkled.”

Jared David Bennett is 4 years old and lives with his family in West Lake Village, California. He has a Mom and a Dad and a little brother and is very excited to soon have a new little sister. His favorite foods are dinosaur chicken nuggets, French fries, and chocolate milk. His favorite color is green and his favorite toys are his transformer toys. Jared loves to visit Disneyland with his family. His favorite rides are the Star Tours ride and the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Jared was a Pirate for Halloween in 2007. Jared likes to go running with his Dad. They run a mile and a quarter together and Jared says that he is faster. Jared also likes basketball. Jared’s favorite superhero is Spiderman, but his Dad thinks Superman is cool too. Jared’s favorite shoes are his Spiderman shoes.

“Who’s your favorite superhero?”

“Spiderman!”

“Do you have Spiderman shoes?”

“Yeah.”

“Are they your favorite shoes?”

“Yeah.”

“Tell me about your Spiderman shoes. What do they look like?”

“Umm… kinda crooked.”

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