Humanizing The Occupy Movement: Portraits of the 99 Percent





Photographer Robert Schultze set out last year to document the Occupy movement through a human lens; to capture the faces of the individuals who gathered in the squares, parks, and plazas of the various Occupy encampments that sprung up around the country throughout the Fall and Winter.

Starting in his home town at Occupy Can Francisco, Schultze saw overnight popularity of his project. He posted his photos to his website which now features an easy to browse collection of over 300 shots from San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Rosa, Oakland, Berkeley, San Diego, and both Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Schultze notes that while the "99 percent" concept is widely felt, members of the Occupy movement had "forgotten about making a human connection with those who have not yet joined their ranks." The project exists to fill that gap. "It puts a face to the protestors, even if there are thousands of faces," he says.

With black-and-white, almost nostalgic tones, the photos tell their own stories, the stories written in the faces of those gathered and on the sings some of them chose to hold for their shots. One young man holds up a hand-written message reading "If corporations are people, when will Obama assassinate one without due process?" Another, held by a young woman in San Jose, California, reads "Educate to Liberate."

And then, occasionally, there is someone dressed as Santa Claus. The Occupy movement in all its beautiful absurdity. 

One of the most powerful shots features an older man in blue jeans holding a hand-made cardboard sign in San Diego that simply reads "I did not come here to lose."

Having already been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, Schultze's goal with the project to continue shooting while also pushing to get more of his photos featured in publications around the country, to "put a human face to the movement," and "show that the people who are involved are really just the every day ordinary citizens standing up for what is right." 

To help support the project, the website features a store offering postcard sized prints, posters, and a book to be released in the future. While the majority of money earned through the store goes to the project, some proceeds will also be donated to Occupy movement groups. AMO also award Portraits of the 99 Percent a grant to support the project and help it grow.

We like the idea of humanizing the Occupy movement, both because it exposes the public to the faces of the many people who participate, and because it can help us understand the demographic makeup of the movement in different areas.




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