Wing Young Huie: the people’s photographer

There is nothing quite so painful for a reporter as determining what not to put in your story.

Case in point: tonight on All Things Considered is the third installment of MPR’s new “Art Heroes” series, which looks at artists who are transforming their communities through their work.

Tonight’s subject is photographer Wing Young Huie, and for every bit that went into the story, there are many more bits I had to leave out.

Thank goodness I also get to write a blog.

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Wing Young Huie

MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson

Here are just a few of the facts that didn’t make the final cut of the radio story.

1. Huie is a true “populist photographer.” He develops his film (yes film) at Walgreens, and keeps his printing methods simple so that just about anyone can afford to buy a photograph. Now he’s looking to publish “postcard books” of his shows, making them even more accessible.

2. Huie bought his first camera on a trip with his brother to Hong Kong. At the time he was studying to be a journalist at the University of Minnesota, but his experience with the camera made him eventually switch to a career in photojournalism.

3. Huie spent much of his early career devouring the works of other photographers. He’d buy a book of works by Henri Cartier Bresson, Edward Weston, or Dianne Arbus, and lock himself in his apartment with the phone unplugged.

4. Last year Huie opened up a gallery called “The Third Place,” and is using it as a different way of building community. In addition to photography shows, Huie hosts karaoke nights and other gatherings.

5. Huie is a ping-pong playing fiend. For Northern Spark, he hosted several tables of ping pong overnight. There’s a ping pong table in the front room of his gallery, too.

6. Huie’s latest project involves taking portraits of people on Chicago Avenue (where his gallery is located), but with a twist. He asks his subjects to pick a neighbor/business owner they don’t know to be in the portrait with them. In turn, that person then gets a portrait taken with someone they don’t know. It’s a sort of daisy chain, in which Huie is actually helping his neighbors to get to know one another.

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