image of Chris Vaughn courtesy of Chris Vaugh http://zhibit.org/chrisvaughn
Q: What were your dreams as a young person?
A: As a young person growing up on the west side of Chicago, I really didn't have any far reaching concrete dreams as to what I wanted to do or be when I grew up. I always had a desire to be part of something greater than myself, that much I did know. I wanted to be part of something that was making a difference. I participated in Scouting at an early age. I also was in activities like the Student Council, the Marching Band, JROTC, among other student organizations early in my high school career. Things that always had me play a part in a much bigger picture. I think there was also something at the heart of many of these activities that afforded me an opportunity to be of service to others.
Q: How were you encouraged?
A: I consider myself very, very fortunate to have had the love and support of my family in my formative years. You just cannot underestimate or overstate the importance of have loving and concerned parents when growing up. My parents provided not only a safe home for me and my siblings to grow in, but a nurturing environment where we are always taught to value ourselves and others. School was also very central to my life as well. The teachers I had from my elementary school to college have left lasting impressions on me to this day. There are times still that I can hear the echoes of my old high school history teacher, a mathematics instructor, or even a gym teacher giving me some jewel of wisdom that I live by today in my memory. With a sound foundation of a loving home, a supportive school, and an active community life with organizations like the church and youth organizations, you really can go far in life.
Q: What are your most favorite things to do?
A: I learned a long time ago that I truly enjoy things that let me experience life's broad tapestry.. whether it's marching around with a Tuba on a high school football field in the marching band, getting a by-line in the student newspaper, doing community service work with my college fraternity, serving my community professionally in a variety of ways, or just picking up my camera and snapping photos of life, I truly enjoy just being part of the moment. There is just so much to do, so many people to meet, and so many places to be, that it's far too hard to say that this, that, or the other is my favorite thing. With that being said, I will say that I get the most personal joy from knowing I did something that made a difference.
Q: If you were anywhere in the world at this moment, where would you be?
A: I know that I probably should say that I'd want to be some place as newsworthy as Egypt at the moment, or some place as timelessly romantic as Paris, or even a place as beautifully exotic asBeijing, but the simply truth of the matter is that wherever the person is who loves me is, that's the place I want to be. That just makes being anywhere and everywhere else even better.
Q: Tell us about capturing images.
A: There is so much one can say about photography. I suppose I could get philosophical about the art of photography or pontificate about the broad importance of capturing images of life, but I fear that I wouldn't have the right words to express the feeling I get just from the simple act of pointing a camera and taking a photo. It points me in the moment that I am trying to capture. Since I was a child, just watching the ritual of my father taking Polaroid snapshots of the moments of our family's life, I have been in love with the process of capturing the moment. I usually describe my photography as "The Photojournalism of Life," I do what I can to capture an image that can tell a story to the view without a single word being exchanged.
We all see so much in life, we see so many people, and they all have a story to share. Photography gives everyone to chance, the opportunity, to capture a moment that will last a life time, and that can be shared with folks far and wide.
Q: What Does Black History Month mean to you?
A: You know, I can remember when we celebrated "Black History Week." How man folks remember that? Well, it is good that we take time out to celebrate "Black History Month," but I truly look forward to the day when we just herald with great praise the fact that Black American history is as much a part of the American experience as anything else. We shouldn't just have to relish with great joy the 28 days that we annually get to talk about the contributions our black ancestors made to lay the foundation that we all stand upon, today. Every day of the year, all 365 of them, should be the days that we can freely take pride in not only what has been done by black men and women of the past to help use realize the American Dream, but all of those whom work and strive in the here and now to keep the dream alive.
What does Black History Month mean to me? It means that we still have some ways to go before we can stop looking at one month out of twelve to talk about our rich heritage as black Americans, and the historic roles that we have played, are playing, and that our children will play, in keeping American the great democratic republic that it strives to be.
Christopher M. Vaughn