“Interview with ‘Through Glass’ director and photographer, Reed Schick”

Through Glass director and photographer, Reed Schick shared some of his thoughts about working in the Glass Farm neighborhood during the making of the Pandemic Portraits project and the creation of the Through Glass videos, in collaboration with Glass House Collective. 

What is your vision for the Through Glass film and Pandemic Portraits projects? The vision is to show people as people wherever they are amongst Covid-19. Covid-19 has affected everyone and everything differently all around the world. The project is about slowing down and taking time to actually try and see people where they are at and listen to their story in the Glass Farm neighborhood in East Chattanooga. 

McClure Family

The McClure Family poses for their Pandemic Portrait on their porch in Glass Farm.

What makes this project stand out/ special?
Everyone is in a different situation amongst Covid-19, yet all of us are under similar circumstances. Covid-19 has effected everyone and to be able to capture/listen to how it is affecting people of a specific community is really beautiful. I was encouraged by the joy many people shared in being with family, still having work, and finding ways to help out their neighbors. I also related to the feelings of anxiety, the uncertainty of every day, and the stress of unemployment. Everyone is going through something right now and for us to be able to tell our stories and be seen or heard has weight.

Why is that important during this time?
It is important to remember, document, and be able to reflect on whatever is going on right now. What is happening right now is a moment in history. We will never be in the same place and everything is/will be changed because of Covid-19. I picked up my camera and started photographing the past few weeks more than I ever have because I believe that everyone should be seen where they are at right now. Whether suffering, getting by, changing routine, or however Covid-19 has affected us, we are all humans and have the ability to listen to and help our neighbors.

Larry’s eyes tell many stories.

Who is telling the story in this film?
Everyone’s experience is different and the residents of Glass Farm are the driving voice. It is their story to be told. Some people are really struggling right now while others are blessed. Some people are sad or anxious while others have joy. All of those voices are important and one does not take away from the other. Together they are the voice of the Glass Farm. The voice of a neighborhood in Chattanooga.

What was the energy like on that Thursday night in May when you did the first pandemic portrait round?
Every home was different, so the energy was constantly changing. Residents seemed really excited about the project and their stories carried the momentum. We visited 12 homes on Thursday night, each around 15 minutes, making photographs and listening to the stories from residents of Glass Farm about their feelings towards Covid-19. 

Who was this project created for? 
The neighborhood comes first. These photographs and videos are going to provide a collective voice and story of what living in 2020 in Glass Farm looks like. Secondly, the city of Chattanooga. Glass Farm is historically an area in Chattanooga (along with most of East Chattanooga) who’s voice and story have been unheard by the rest of the city. I want people who are new to the area, have never interacted with anyone from East Chattanooga, who want to know their neighbors better, to be able to see this project and learn about someone new. Thirdly, anyone and everyone:) Glass Farm is a working-class neighborhood in the Southeast of the United States. Historically (and currently) the voice of the Black community has been suppressed and silenced in the South (as well as the United States in general). I think that a story as simple as someone talking on their front porch, explaining how they are feeling amongst a global pandemic, is relatable to anyone in the world right now. How powerful would it be to give the residents of Glass Farm a global platform and for someone to be able to relate to someone different than them from wherever they are? Fourthly, potential donors. I want anyone who sees this video to see and hear the people and also be able to contribute or learn more about Glass House Collective. Glass House Collective has been in the community for many years and cares more about the residents in a way that is beneficial to them. If people could learn more and want to support Glass House Collective, then more projects such as this one are possible.

I hope that people want to learn more and feel a human connection from the photographs and video. I hope that people get excited about “meeting” someone new and that inspires them to get to know their neighbors. I hope that if someone in Chattanooga sees the video that they become curious about Glass Farms and try to learn more about the history of Chattanooga. Overall I want there to be encouraging and hopeful feelings from viewers which causes them to feel positively of Glass House Collective. It is about people telling their stories and feeling respected. If we can do that well, then people will appreciate and love the brand.

How will you know if this project was a success?
Success looks like honesty. Telling stories honestly and treating people with dignity. I want everyone who participated to feel seen, heard, and respected when they see their photographs or the video. I want them to be able to see themselves and their stories in light of Covid-19 as something important and historical.

Plan to host a Watch Party for the virtual premiere of Through Glass on Thursday, July 2 at 7:30pm. 

Read more about the Through Glass project here.