Exposures
December 9, 2012
I Care: Photographer creates portraits with a purpose

2012130_AOC_ICarePhotog_159w.jpgBob Jensen plays with three children as he makes candid photographs of them at the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services Clothing Program. "You've got such an amazing face. Do you know that?" he says in a gentle voice to Yhamani Jordon, 7. He looks into her eyes. She grins at him between bites of a donut. The shutter clicks as they commune in mutual respect and friendship. Jensen, a volunteer at the Clothing Program, began creating portraits of the clients in May, after realizing that many could not afford pictures of themselves or their families. His photographs grace the walls of the Clothing Program, and he gives prints to those whose glowing faces he has captured. He believes this work serves an important purpose. "These are members of our community who are unacknowledged - ignored," he says. "The first step is to make them visible."
2012130_AOC_ICarePhotog_073w.jpg

Jensen, 70, a retired psychology professor, began volunteering at the Clothing Program 4 years ago as a family activity with his wife, Anne, and son, Andy, who was 15 at the time. "I wanted (my son) to be introduced to a wide array of folks and circumstances," he said, and then learn "we're all alike." The family got to know the people at the Clothing Program and decided that they had found their perfect volunteer activity.
Seeing a need for pictures on the wall earlier this year Jensen began asking that the Clothing Program clients bring in pictures of themselves wearing the clothes they had chosen. For months no one brought back a single photograph and he learned that it was never going to happen.
An advanced amatuer photographer himself, he decided that he would like to start making pictures, but was not sure if people would be comfortable with it. "We talked to three people and got a response from ten. Then it just snowballed," he said. Jensen applied himself to learn more about photography, lighting and composition, realizing that his photographs were in demand. He recalls one woman who had tears in her eyes when he gave her a picture of her mother because she'd never had one before.

2012130_AOC_ICarePhotog_223w.jpg

On November 30, Jensen met with a budding family of five to create a holiday portrait for them. Some of them were candid, others were posed in front of a Christmas tree.
"It's hard enough to pay rent and get food not to mention the holidays," said the mother, Deseree Jordon of Sacramento. Professional portraits are a luxury item to them. Their home is now decorated with Jensen's photographs.
"You always need memories," said her fiancee, Rashad James. "What's family without memories?"

2012130_AOC_ICarePhotog_192w.jpg
Jensen has compiled his growing body of work into a personal photo book that he titled "Invisible Sacramento - Visible." His photography is just beginning to define itself, develop a voice and provoke questions from it's viewers. Born out of friendship first, and then a sense of giving to others he thinks this growing body of work may one day help shed light into the lives and personalities of Sacramentans in need. But for now he's enjoying every moment and letting the work come naturally.
"It's a place where I can give and receive," he said. "I can make really great human connections. It keeps me vital. These people give me a lot of energy."

2012130_AOC_ICarePhotog_001w.jpg

Do you know an extraordinary volunteer who should be profiled in the I Care column? Please email suggestions to Autumn Payne at apayne@sacbee.com.

About Comments

Reader comments on Sacbee.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on Sacbee.com

Sacbee.com is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at feedback@sacbee.com. Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to feedback@sacbee.com. Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

hide comments

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from sacbee.com. While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on sacbee.com and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.



FOLLOW US | Get more from sacbee.com | Follow us on Twitter | Become a fan on Facebook | Get news in your inbox | View our mobile versions | e-edition: Print edition online | What our bloggers are saying