SAN ANTONIO — Andrew Bradley wanted to connect the perspective of the outcry for justice and equality in a personal way. He got inspired by the murder of George Floyd’s death and other photographers documenting the protest against it.
“After seeing the video of George Floyd and the protest starting, I really wanted to do something,” he said. “But I felt a little misguided because I didn’t have a voice. I felt like I needed to learn and listen more.”
The father of three realized he could use his skills in media, marketing and IT to tell the stories of those reaching for resolve.
He posted his ‘Black Lives Matter Protest Portraits’ on Facebook. Admittedly, the traction was slow. But the determined the 38-year-old continued to press on social media until protesters signed up.
“My vision was to tell other peoples’ stories---to amplify their voices,” He said.
The 38-year-old believed if he could link others to the personal accounts of protesters perhaps it would help the message.
“Through photography, when you look at a person’s face, you look at their eyes, you hear their words, it becomes real,” Bradley said.
He set aside his insecurities to meet strangers with stories unfamiliar to the way he and his daughters live.
“Because I’ a white middle class male. Because I haven’t come up against racism,” He said. “Because I haven’t experienced that.”
But he could listen and showcase what he heard from an array of participants. According to Bradley, the photo sessions welcomed in nearly every walk of life.
“One guy who was 17 when Martin Luther King was assassinated,” He recalled. “There were families. There were doctors. There were people who worked for non-profits.”
In a rented studio space in a San Antonio studio, he took 15-minute chunks to interview the portrait participants and take their pictures. The similitude in their account was ‘these protests feel different.’
He said African-Americans were grateful for other ethnicities lending voice for change. But there also remains deep-seeded fear of the police. Bradley said a mother who came in for a session with her young autistic son was worried.
Her fear, he said, is that police might misread his condition and kill him. Bradley took a picture of the curly haired child sitting on a white floor. Near the youngster a cardboard sign with the words ‘Will you protect me?'
Bradley said overall he felt a sense of faith things will get better for African-Americans and police.
“My biggest takeaway and what I heard a lot was that there’s a lot of hope,” he said. “That we’re not completely lost. There’s hope for change.”