On May 31 2011 Stephen Hill was gunned down on the South Side of Chicago, I later learned it was mistaken identity. Stephen was only 20 years old during his short lifetime he touched a lot of people. As a photographer you never know who the person you photograph will become in life. Stephen was one of my models and I met him on the basketball courts at Washington Park, I watched him grow up. I remember when he first attended Simeon High School, Stephen had a saying when I asked him about modeling; his saying was “I don’t care what my friends say I am my own man”.
He was 20 when he started modeling for me, and I know a lot of people ask why do you shoot the young black men so much? Well just like Stephen would say “Somebody’s got to do it”. Two days after he was murdered I got the news through Facebook and was asked did I have any photos of him, I did and I gladly sent them to the Family. One day recently I was overwhelmed by the negative criticism I was receiving by some on Facebook that I was about to quit photography all together. That’s when a Family member of Stephen Hills’ reminded me that I had made a big difference in their lives by documenting Stephen Hill.
That stopped me from quitting right then. Stephen wasn’t a bad person he didn’t hang out with the wrong crowd like most young men in that area, he had to deal with the reality of just being a young black man coming up in a not so friendly area. The Washington Park area is still bad, the gangs are out of control and I was almost killed myself while documenting the guys on the courts one day. A car just came by and started shooting at the basketball court for no reason, no one was hit but we were all shaken up from the event.
The reason for this brief article is because I stumbled across one of his photos and every time I see his picture I am quickly reminded of my responsibility to keeping his memory alive. Stephen Hill was just one of many who was killed in that area that year that I know of. So many more have since been Killed. My People the Gun violence has to stop and Stop Now. There is no excuse for why you have to shoot someone for nothing “PUT THE GUNS DOWN AND FIGHT THE REAL FIGHT“.