When Downtown The Magazine contacted me to shoot the feature stories for their first issue, I was most excited about a story on religious diversity in the city. As the worldwide headquarters for a major religion, Salt Lake often leaves people with the impression that few other religions exist here. Clearly, that is not the case. In fact, a healthy dialogue continues regularly among religious leaders in the area. They all know and speak highly of each other.
The editors initially wanted 3-4 leaders from different faiths, and left it up to me how to approach the series. I immediately thought of shooting environmental portraits combined with up-close studies of the faces in black and white, inspired by Platon. Unlike Platon’s powerful series though, with its varying lighting setups and poses, I wanted a sort of uniformity to run throughout the series, something to help connect the commonality these religious leaders share, despite their disparate beliefs. I also wanted the environmental portraits to portray these leaders in their spaces of worship: both to show just how many beautiful historic structures Salt Lake actually has and again to locate them in a space of commonality.
I ended up photographing seven leaders, but the series is not finished yet. I’m in contact with three or four more faiths to round out the project. I hope to finish it in the next month.