Photo Book Project Tells the Story of Ferguson Through Hundreds of Crowdsourced Images
Five years ago this month, thousands took to the streets of Ferguson to protest the killing of Michael Brown and to spotlight the racial disparities felt throughout the region. While many raised their voices, others raised their cameras, capturing the frustration, the anger and, eventually, the hope that would change the face of St. Louis and the nation forever.
Photographer Santiago Bianco and Steve Sommers, founder of TEDxGatewayArch, knew that to fully tell the story of Ferguson in an unbiased way, someone had to collect and document the endless stream of photos posted to social media by activists, journalists and community members during the unrest and in its aftermath.
“What was being reported on TV was a small fragment of the whole story, a fraction of what was really going on,” says Bianco. “It was obvious there were pictures being generated with all of the cell phones and cameras out there, but how could we see them in all in context? The idea was to crowdsource people who were there, who would contribute to a historical document we could one day put in schools and libraries to have a record of all that occurred.”
The result is “CHRONICLE :: FERGUSON,” a photo book that serves as a collective view of the events of 2014 through hundreds of pairs of eyes. The “CHRONICLE” team spent years securing funding for the project and combing through 10,000 submitted photos. On the fifth anniversary of Brown’s death, they were able to release the first chapter for free online. Over the next few months, the remaining chapters will be available through the website until the print book is ready for purchase in late 2019.
The final “CHRONICLE :: FERGUSON” version will have around 400 images, all sourced directly from the community and offering different perspectives on the event. “We really tried to choose the photos that conveyed the most,” Bianco explains. “When you see them, you can immediately tell what’s going on without much content.”
In addition, readers can fully immerse themselves in history through the book’s augmented reality options. Using the “CHRONICLE :: FERGUSON” app, students will be able to scroll over select images using their smartphone to trigger content relevant to the photos, including interviews and videos, to learn from the shared experiences of those on the scene.
“Our goal with ‘CHRONICLE :: FERGUSON’ is to preserve history and also start conversations with younger generations, especially youth who lived in St. Louis at the time these photos were captured but weren’t old enough to understand or appreciate what was happening. We hope it will be used in a classroom setting where people can have a dialog about it and share their different opinions. But most of all, we want to keep what we learned from Ferguson at the forefront and keep people talking about it so it doesn’t just fade away.”
To preorder the print version of “CHRONICLE :: FERGUSON” or download the first two chapters, visit www.chronicleferguson.org. One hundred percent of profits from the print book will be divided equally between the Brown family, the book’s photographers and the organization’s educational objective of donating “CHRONICLE :: FERGUSON” to schools.
Featured image courtesy of Roberto Rodriguez.