Through the lens: The fabric of our city

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Amy Klose, flower seller at the N.C. State Farmers Market

text and photographs by Christer Berg

With a deep passion for telling stories through portraiture, I recently set out to photograph the people who make Raleigh hum, those who help it grow, and those who make it an exciting, creative, and vibrant city.

Traditionally, these types of portraits are carefully planned, often styled, and always pre-scheduled. But this time I wanted to try something different. I wanted to document people going about their daily lives in an authentic way. So I skipped the planning, styling, and scheduling. I worked to catch them in the moment, doing what they do. They had no opportunity to prepare in advance or become someone they are not.

I packed my car with a minimum of photography gear – one camera, one lens, one flash, one backdrop – and together with an assistant, I set out to explore Raleigh, not knowing who or what we would encounter.

We found fascinating people. The portraits in this photo essay were all made spontaneously, at the moment and in the spot where we encountered willing subjects. A tattoo artist on a Hillsborough Street sidewalk in front of his studio; a pastor in her sanctuary; a fireman at his downtown fire station; a flower seller at the State Farmers Market; a fish salesman inside the seafood market that’s been in his family for more than 46 years; and so on.

I like to call this series The Fabric of Raleigh.

Rob Rutherford, tattoo artist, Phoenix Tattoo Studio.

Rob Rutherford, tattoo artist, Phoenix Tattoo Studio.

Rev. Liz Roberts, pastor at Fairmount United Methodist Church

Rev. Liz Roberts, pastor at Fairmount United Methodist Church

Sean Barker, principal farmer, Raleigh City Farm

Sean Barker, principal farmer, Raleigh City Farm

Laura Mendez, construction worker and traffic controller, The Edison luxury apartment building site

Laura Mendez, construction worker and traffic controller, The Edison luxury apartment building site

Dan Stewart, assistant manager, Earp’s Seafood Market

Dan Stewart, assistant manager, Earp’s Seafood Market

Joscelynn LaForge, mail carrier, US Postal Service

Joscelynn LaForge, mail carrier, US Postal Service

Timothy Caldwell, firefighter, Engine 13

Timothy Caldwell, firefighter, Engine 13

Stephen Strouse, chocolate maker, Videri Chocolate Factory

Stephen Strouse, chocolate maker, Videri Chocolate Factory

Getting the shot under the roof of a maintenance building at the Farmers Market of Jose Amaya, high voltage electrical contractor with Pike Electric, a subcontractor to Duke Energy.

Getting the shot under the roof of a maintenance building at the Farmers Market of Jose Amaya, high voltage electrical contractor with Pike Electric, a subcontractor to Duke Energy.