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BOOKS Photographer focuses on 'The People of the Pride Parade'
by Emily Reilly
2020-06-23

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Alyssa Blumstein captured a celebratory photography book The People of the Pride Parade, which was released in honor of the Pride Parade's 50th anniversary. The images highlight the joyful moments through a collection of marches and events during a Pride celebration.

Blumstein talked with Windy City Times about her experience capturing the people of a Pride Parade.

Windy City Times: What inspired you to capture images of the people of Pride?

Alyssa Blumstein: First and foremost, I wanted to work with Julia [Abramoff]and Apollo [Publishers] for a really long time and we briefly discussed some other projects, but then she came to me with this idea. Apollo wanted to make a book documenting WorldPride to be released for the 50th anniversary of Pride. I was thrilled that they came to me with this project; it felt personal and I felt it fit nicely within the photography I gravitate toward. We wanted to take this book in a people-focus direction.

WCT: Did you have a blueprint of what you wanted to photograph or was it a more spontaneous process?

AB: I see myself as an event photographer. I think while I'm working events I aim to capture the vibrancy, quirkiness and joy—whether that be parties or weddings—and Pride is all of those things. I didn't have to look very hard to find the things that are traditionally sought out in photography. Pride encompasses all of those joyous and fun moments.

WCT: The book included LGBTQ history at the beginning. Then following it, I noticed there were pictures of people from every age group, gender, and race celebrating pride. How do the moments you captured speak to the progress of the movement?

AB: Pride has changed over time, and putting aside any feelings of corporate sponsorship, or anything felt about pride to this day, it continues to remain an incredible weekend full of joy, full of locals, full of visitors celebrating, and full of instances of amazing identity. Pride was always at least somewhat political depending on where you are in history. I hope that you still see that the instances in those pictures, during the weekend of pride, give people a platform to make statements about the movement and about their joy.

WCT: What is your favorite picture from the book?

AB: I really liked the picture of this woman, Una Osato, who I did not know at the time. She's a burlesque dancer and activist and she has a vibrant personality. Then I saw her with some friends and found out she's dating one of my high school friends! New York is so big and I've lived here a decade feeling that hugeness and loving it for that—that anonymity, walking around at night, talking to bodega owners, and just going on your way.

But at this moment during Pride, this made me feel like New York can be small if you want it to be. This was a huge event that millions upon millions are at, but it does end up bringing friends together.

WCT: I noticed there were funny and thoughtful signs marchers had, and the book ended with a really great sign. The layout of the photos told a story of their own. How was that decision made?

AB: Julia is the one who designed the full layout and had the final say of the order of photos, and she did an awesome job! I was moved by how rad the layout was! I think she was particularly fantastic at it.

When it comes to the signs I captured, I'll say that you didn't have to look far to find people who are smart and witty with their sign-use. But Julia's choice of where to put them was fully hers and I love it.

WCT: Why do you feel it's important for the world to see a modern-day Pride parade?

AB: I think representation is always important, and it's always important to continue to show a movement at different times through history. It makes it real, accurate, and more familiar to outsiders. If something feels dated it may not feel important to this moment right now, but it's important to showcase that people are involved, are proud, are out there, and that this is an amazing event to take part in. That's important with all events. I believe that across the board.

The People of the Pride Parade is available on Amazon.


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