As part of our “Fellows Friday” web feature, we focus on the artistic lives of our Pew Fellows: their aspirations, influences, and creative challenges. This week, we speak to 2012 Pew Fellow Lori Waselchuk. A 2013 Leeway Transformation Award winner, Waselchuk’s photographs have appeared in magazines and newspapers such as Time, LIFE, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times. She is currently interviewing and photographing Philadelphia block captains for a new project, Them That Do, which reveals the individual and shared histories of the city’s diverse citizenry. Click here to read Waselchuk’s recent piece about the project in Next City.
When did you know you were going to be an artist?
I’m not sure if I trusted that title for myself until I received the Pew Fellowship! So, two years ago.
What images or things keep you company in the space where you work?
Books, posters, postcards of shows, and photos of my kids. Some work by other photographers. I have one photo of myself, arm-in-arm with Desmond Tutu. I’m always the one taking pictures of others with famous people, and this was the one time I gave my camera to someone else to take a picture. I am so glad I did.
What could you imagine doing if you didn’t do what you do?
I think I could do so many things and find fulfillment as long as I’m in the trenches of life—meaning that I’m working directly with people, helping to solve problems. If I ever get tired of photography (unlikely) and if I could move straight into a job (without having to go back to school), I would like to work with the Committee to Protect Journalists or a similar organization that works to promote press freedom in the world.
How has your thinking about the business of your practice changed since you started working professionally?
I now believe that my work can be the means to build a secure future. I never really thought that before.