I chose to write about gentrification in Chicago because it is something that I watched happen before my eyes. For the past ten or so years, little by little, I noticed the changes occurring within neighborhoods across Chicago. For example, when my family first moved to Kenwood in 2007 (the neighborhood I grew up in), the neighborhood was very barren. There was a lot of vacant lots. There were no restaurants or parks or grocery stores. There were only a couple of “nice” houses. Fast forward to 2019, the neighborhood is full of houses, restaurants, parks, and grocery stores. Any piece of vacant land is being used to create single family homes that cost anywhere between $500,000 to $1,000,000. Grocery stores including Marianos, Whole Foods, and Trader Joes have been built in the area. Although this is not in my neighborhood, the Barack Obama Presidential Center is going to be built in an area 10 minutes away from my house. Everytime I come home from college, my neighborhood looks different. Although my neighborhood is looking more and more beautiful, I know there are many people being negatively affected by this.
I chose to do a photo essay because it seemed like the medium that best fit me. I am always used to writing an essay in one way or another. I know that photo essays are not the same as an essay with photos, but I do feel comfortable with writing a lot of words. I would not have been able to do this if I did an infographic or comic strip. I also chose to do a photo essay because it seemed like the medium that would best illustrate what gentrification in Chicago looks like. I could have done an infographic on the statistics behind gentrification in Chicago or a comic strip poking fun at the people who are gentrifying these areas. However, I felt like doing a photo essay would help visualize the problem for people who are not familiar with gentrification. A photo essay could show readers what people who are being gentrified see and what people who are gentrifying see.
With a photo essay, I am allowed to show the reader what gentrification looks like in different Chicago neighborhoods. The reader will be able to see what gentrification is doing to the area and the people. A photo essay acts as a visual aid in helping readers better understand how some people consider gentrification a good thing and others consider it a bad thing. The photos allow the reader to form their own interpretation of the problem. Even though a photo essay is a good way to show readers what gentrification looks like, it does not tell the whole story. A picture cannot give you the intensive history and background on gentrification in the United States. A picture cannot give you the numbers of people being affected by gentrification in this country and around the world. A picture, in general, cannot tell you exactly what is going on and therefore, could lead the reader to read the image in an incorrect way.
When choosing a photo essay, one of the biggest choices already made is that the photo will tell a story. However, you do not know which story the reader will be interpreting. You could give history and background information to the reader to help vocalize the story you are trying to tell. But, you cannot control what emotions people feel when they see an image.