Inspired by Bill Cunningham and Scott Schuman, William Crooks has developed his own take on street portraiture through his Wac Avenue series. “Originally, photography was simply a means of documenting the visually expressive individuals I would spot while walking through the small downtown of my home Greenville, SC. This grew into a passion for street portraiture and I found myself spending nearly every weekend scouring the streets for stylish strangers.” Crooks said of his experience.
A natural introvert, this idea of street portraiture, and approaching complete strangers was frightening to Crooks. “Despite this fear, I felt strongly that the work would be more compelling if instead of taking candid street shots, I asked permission and made street portraits instead. There is something incredibly intimate about taking a stranger’s portrait.” he explains. After some research and investigation Crooks found very little in the way of street style work that featured images from smaller southern cities, and the idea for Wac Avenue was formed. He started own his blog and from there he set out to explore Greenville, and when he felt as though he had seen it all, his project took him to other southern cities like Nashville, Charleston, Atlanta, and Charlotte.
“The challenge of working with natural light at plenty of subpar times of day in a variety of locations really helped me grow as a photographer and keeps the process of shooting street portraits from ever feeling repetitive.” Crooks says about working on the project, “Walking the streets searching for street portraits became my escape from technological frenzy of modern life.” He continued to explain that a main goal of this project is to dispel the myth that the South is not a hub for creatives and visual expressive individuals.
Crooks’ unique view, blending style, portraiture, and street photography is both refreshing and interesting to analyse. Enjoy a selection from his Wac Avenue series below.