CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - When a stranger walks up to you and ask to take your picture, you probably greet them with a bit of skepticism. Rightfully so.
In this digital era of social media and memes, who knows where your picture could end up. In Over-the-Rhine, there is a photographer who does just that. He walks up to unassuming strangers and ask to take their picture. Not asking a name, or for a story. Simply to capture a picture of that moment in time. He leaves the story up for interpretation by those who click on his photos.
A beautiful Saturday in Over-the-Rhine means people, and a lot of them, walking the streets. Among them is a man wearing a camouflage jacket, carrying a camera in search for something. Or rather, someone.
He may be a stranger to some but other’s easily recognize Frank Young or “Gypsy Frank.” He takes pictures of people on the streets of OTR. It’s that simple. Jones finds what he thinks are some of the most interesting characters. People we would simply walk by without a giving a second look.
Whether he calls himself a street photographer, fine art or documentary photographer -- Gypsy Frank just feels better when he’s “making pictures.”
Granting himself the moniker “Gypsy Frank” because he’s always moving, searching for the next person to be the subject of his fine art.
He says Over-the-Rhine is the best place to perform his art.
“Over-the-Rhine is the only neighborhood in Cincinnati where you find people walking, which is how I take my pictures," says Young. “People who come to the neighborhood or live in the neighborhood tend to be a lot more open and a lot more open to the idea of being photographed.”
When he’s not roaming the streets of OTR, he’s usually scouting prospects from 1215 Vine Coffee and Wine Shop. The full-time barista says he always keeps his camera in tow, in case another source of inspiration happens to walk by.
“I don’t go out looking for specific things, I have found that when I go out looking for specific things I never find it," says Young. I’m not looking to photograph a character. I’m looking for authenticity with an emotion."
There have been comparisons of Gypsy Frank’s work to that of Brandon Stanton, the photographer behind the now nationally recognized “Humans of New York” project. But for Gypsy, he’d rather the story lie in the picture. In his words, “You don’t know what’s going on before or after the frame.”
“I don’t tell people’s story or get their names unless it’s someone I really want to photograph again. I don’t want to influence how people look at the pictures. We have our own views on politics, relationships, how to be fathers or how to be mothers. All of these really affect how you can look at an image,” says Young.
In every image he captures, he wants the subject to see themselves. Nothing more, nothing less.
“I want people to see my fellow Cincinnati citizens, that we are no different than people from other cities. I want people to know that they are beautiful in their own way. Even though they work a regular job or they’re in school. They’re okay, they’re beautiful. They’re beautiful because they are and not because anyone else validates them. Me taking a picture of them does not validate their existence or who they are. They are because they are, I’m just kind of baring witness to it," he says.
You can usually find Gypsy Frank’s work on his Instagram page that is growing quite a following. That page is Instagram.com/gypsy.frank/