30 September 2013

The Julie Project

When I mentioned to a dear friend of mine that I was doing a research assignment on a photographer of my choice, she asked me if I had ever heard of Darcy Padilla. She suggested that I look into The Julie Project. I was not prepared for what a profound effect it would have on me. Julie’s story will stay with me for a long time. Personally, I could ever do work like this, but I have a deep sense of admiration for those photojournalists who delve into the darker side of life. These are stories that must be told. These are stories that are happening not only in distant lands, but in our own backyards. I am grateful to my friend – and to Darcy Padilla, of course – for sharing Julie’s story with me. I strongly urge you to discover Julie’s story.

© Darcy Padilla 
Darcy Padilla is a San Francisco-based photographer, who has won worldwide recognition with her poignant documentary work. She won a place at the World Press Photo exhibit in 2011 and again in 2012. She has also won several other awards including the W. Eugene Smith Award for Humanistic Photography, the Alexia Foundation for World Peace and the Professional Grant and the Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography.

Her work has been published in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Newsweek, amongst others. She is a visiting faculty member at the San Francisco Art Institute. She has offered lectures and workshops in the US and in Europe.

She is best known for The Julie Project, a heart-wrenching, 18-year project in which she chronicled the life and death of Julie Baird, a drug addict afflicted with AIDS, who was born into poverty, struggled with myriad issues including abusive relationships and losing five of her six children to child protective services.

 “While I juggle several passions at once, my enduring study has been the life of one woman I met in the Tenderloin 17 years ago. This project is one that has set a direction for my approach to photography.”

She is currently working on a follow-up project called Everything is Going To Be OK, which follows the lives of Jason and Elyssa, the boyfriend and daughter that Julie left behind. She is also working on a documentary film of Julie and Jason’s lives, which she started filming in 2005. I look forward to both of these projects. Someday, I would love attend one of her workshops or lectures.

Julie, Valdez Alaska, 2006 © Darcy Padilla

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