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Urban Experiment of the Day: Can 1,000 Portraits Prove Everyone Is Photogenic?

A photographer from Philly wants to put your face on a billboard.

Everyone can look good on camera. That’s the point Philadelphia photographer JJ Tiziou is trying to prove in his new project "everyone is photogenic."

Tiziou, who's already taken over a million portraits, is planning to photograph 1,000 Philadelphians in 10 sessions -- that's 100 people per session. A recent test run at Tiziou’s studio drew in around 80 people. Each portrait was photographed in the same setting with the same lighting, and participants received a free download of their photo. Food was included intentionally, as Tiziou hopes these photo sessions will also help build connections through the community.

Photos taken at the test session. Courtesy of JJ Tiziou

Tiziou is partnering with as many neighborhood organizations as possible to serve as additional photo shoot locations. While he doesn’t want “diversity for diversity’s sake," he is trying to reach beyond the groups he usually comes into contact with. This means trying to cross age, language, and maybe even accessibility barriers, so that people who are interested in the project can participate. Tiziou says he might make a trip to hospital beds. 

Tiziou will also be launching a $100,000 Kickstarter project with the goal of putting these portraits on billboards around the city. With two successful Kickstarter campaigns under his belt, including a $25,000 mural project, he has a fair chance of making an even bigger splash this time around. In the meantime, you can read Tiziou's entire manifesto on why "photogeneity" is a harmful construct for both individuals and the community. 

(h/t Philadelphia City Paper)

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