Wednesday, December 23, 2015

St. Louis Photographer Corey Woodruff Wins Acclaim for "All of the Faces"

Posted By on Wed, Dec 23, 2015 at 6:30 AM

click to enlarge One image from Corey Woodruff's "All of the Faces" project. - PHOTO BY COREY WOODRUFF
  • Photo by Corey Woodruff
  • One image from Corey Woodruff's "All of the Faces" project.

Photographer Corey Woodruff has shot 350 people in the last year — and that's not even counting the work he's done for the Riverfront Times or other publications. In fact, all 350 of those people are his Facebook friends.



Woodruff's"All of the Faces" project, an attempt to personally photograph every single person he's friends with on Facebook, has kept the professional photographer hopping for all of 2015. He's averaged roughly one portrait each day.



And yesterday, the project landed him coverage in no less than the Washington Post, which detailed his efforts and shared a host of the stunning portraits he's created.

Previously someone who worked in sales and marketing and merely dabbled in photography, Woodruff left his job in 2010 and decided to "make a run at doing it professionally." He first got interested in the work while chronicling his own band during its time on the road and still shoots many musicians, but he does lots of other work, too — including this RFT cover story about shopping locally

Thanks to his work in marketing, he knew that his unique project would likely garner some attention — but even he has been surprised by the reaction it's drawn. 

"I'm frankly shocked by how many people are interested in the project," he says.

click to enlarge Another face from "All of the Faces" - PHOTO BY COREY WOODRUFF
  • Photo by Corey Woodruff
  • Another face from "All of the Faces"

Part of it might be that he has a built-in army of people willing to talk up the project online — each one of those 350 portraits represents someone excited about "All of the Faces" and eager to spread the word.

But the bigger reason, perhaps, is our longing for connectivity. How many of our Facebook friends have we actually met, really? And even if we knew them all once, how many have we seen in the course of the past year, much less shared an intimate moment? 

"I think it has to do with the Facebook wall," he says, "the social media wall. The way people are using Facebook and Twitter as a substitute for real-world interactions with people." In the intimacy of his portrait sessions, he's breached that divide.

He has no intention of stopping in the new year. "I'm literally at the halfway mark this week," he says. 

click to enlarge Another friend of Woodruff's struck a more jocular pose. - PHOTO BY COREY WOODRUFF
  • Photo by Corey Woodruff
  • Another friend of Woodruff's struck a more jocular pose.

And while you might assume that he's already taken care of the low-hanging Facebook fruit, the friends and neighbors he sees each day, Woodruff says that's not necessarily true. "I might be having to reach out a little more now with these remaining ones, but for at least half of these so far, I've had to contact them," he says. 

Whatever comes next, it certainly can't be any more difficult than the road trip Woodruff meticulously planned earlier this year, in which he met up with no less than 50 friends, photographed them and then crossed them off the list. After that, the rest of this should be a breeze.

But don't even think about friending Woodruff just to get in on the action. "I only friend people if I've met them in person," he says. A wise social media policy — and something the photographer won't regret as he tries to squeeze in the next 350 portraits in 2016.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com

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