Capturing Chicago's Cultural Uprising For Years, ThoughtPoet Is Ready For His Own Work To Be Seen

Photos by Christopher Brown

Christopher Brown is ThoughtPoet. Born and raised in the Chatham area, Chris saw the beauty in his neighborhood and wanted to capture it. When his grandmother bought him his first camera he began photographing all of his surroundings, striving to document the aesthetics around him. At the time he began exploring photography most people had known young Chris for his poetry. A friend of his introduced him to YOUmedia and YCA, where he would try his hand at open mic events. It was in this same space that many young superstars from Chance The Rapper to Mick Jenkins were perfecting their craft, driving Chris to push himself even harder, although he ended up steering his focus towards photography. After being a part of these programs and attending the release of Chance’s 5Day (the rare predecessor to 10Day) at LDRS, Chris realized just how powerful art was and dedicated himself toward being a part of it. Now, Chris’s poetry comes through his photography and the way he writes captions for his work. 

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Chris started off doing landscape and concert photography and felt the need to balance his work and display his ability to shoot a wide range of subjects. With his roots dug deep into the chicago music scene, Chris remains active in concert photography, but enjoys the intimacy of portraits. 

Chris tries to capture calm and comfortable moments in his work. He's able to capture a moment in such a way that allows people to look at the image almost like they would a painting. He likes how multiple people can look at a piece from their unique perspectives and interpret it differently. Capturing the energy and emotion of a subject in his portrait work, Chris strives to focus on more than just his subjects physical appearances. While he shoots his subject he talks with them and develops a genuine connection where he is able to bring out the emotion and let things flow naturally. He wants to bring out the things that the subject hopes to see just as much as the things that he wants to see. 

Just as Chris hopes to realize the visions of his subjects, he is working towards increasing the public’s recognition of his own craft. He calls himself a creative rather than a photographer because he tries to bring emotion and a certain type of energy into whatever it is he captures. Chris has hopes of going on tour with an artist or staging the perfect photo featuring revolutionary Chicago figures, but ultimately he wants people to be able to see and appreciate his work. Part of that focus is to host a series of gallery events to showcase his work as well as offer a platform for other creatives.

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Chris’ #heartmelanin series began this summer after his first event ‘The Prelude’ took place at Build Coffee at the end of July. The goal of #heartmelanin is to gather a group of positive individuals and to facilitate genuine connections among them. Reflecting on his first event, Chris found it rewarding to be able to fill up the space with a community of creatives who stayed and hung out together long after the end of the event. #heartmelanin celebrates anything and everything black and brown, it’s about loving one another and loving yourself. The second in Chris’ #heartmelanin series will be this Saturday on August 26th at the Breathing Room Space. It will feature a photo exhibit of Chris’ work as well as food, clothing and jewelry for sale. The event also includes live musical performances from Kiara Lanier, Chair Tulani, David Ellis, Daryn Alexus, Ridley Victoria, Calez and even stories from Chris’ greatest inspiration and a natural storyteller, his grandmother.

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