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Page 2 Castroville News Bulletin October 10, 2013

Documenting 1,005 faces: Sarah Lyons takes it one at a time Ann Chen Staff Writer One of Castroville’s own is making a name for herself in San Antonio. Sarah Lyons, a photographer who spent her middle and high school years at Medina Valley, and whose parents still reside in Castroville, has turned her lens on more than 700 of San Antonio’s denizens and creative minds with her “1,005 Faces” project. Her subjects range from former mayor of San Antonio, Phil Hardberger, to the ‘Spurs Jesus,’ and Lyons’ project has become an iconic expression of San Antonio’s diversity, energy, and optimism. According to Lyons, the project was inspired by a 12-day summit in San Antonio, called Dream Week, which highlights San Antonio’s multiculturalism. “[It had] events that were lectures and keynote speakers and art events and food events, all dealing with multicultural communities,” Lyons said. “So I was interested after that in exploring the idea of diversity, and I really love San Antonio and the area, and I get really frustrated when people stereotype this part of Texas as being boring. So it was my way of showing how diverse and interesting the community is.” As much as her project is about diversity, it is also about equality: all of her subjects are shot in black and white and all hold up a card on which they’ve written something. “I let people write whatever they want to on the sign, there’s not really a rule or anything or a prompt,” Lyons said. “And a lot of people take it as an opportunity to be inspiring or motivational. And that’s really interesting to me, that people kind of want to share their good side when they have the opportunity.” Lyons is interested in the differences that each person brings when they sit for a portrait, and her project is in part an attempt to tell the stories of the people she photographs. “Every time I photograph someone I learn about them and I learn their vulnerabilities and I learn what excites them. I just love the opportunity to meet all kinds of people and share their stories,” Lyons said. “There [are] a lot of really interesting stories behind [the cards] that aren’t so obvious by what’s written. [I’ve] heard stories about somebody’s love romance in Turkey, and [the death of] somebody else’s child, and

then another couple’s near engagement. You know, just all kinds of crazy stuff that people want to express and share.” Lyons started practic-

really love to be able to have that element of compassion.” A significant part of Lyons’ own story takes place in Castroville. Lyons

at all.” Though “1,005 Faces” is not directly religious in nature, faith is a large part of both Lyons’ project and her life.

comes into focus [very] easily, a lot more easily than a lot of things I’ve done in my life have.” Intimately connected to her faith is her compassion

ing photography in college after the death of a close friend. Developing photos of her friend from a Kodak camera and sharing them with his family led Lyons to a profound realization, as well as to her future vocation. “Having those pictures after he passed on was really powerful,” she said. “It really helped me remember him and I was able to show them to his family, and it was sort of this life line. [It] was very clear to me after that how important and powerful photography can be.” A single mother during college, Lyons worked as a photographer while going to school part time. Such difficulties have helped shape her point of view, as well as her motivation and interests as a photographer. “I think that, you know, I’ve had a couple of events in life that were really difficult and I feel like instead of them making me depressed and melancholy they’ve given me an appreciation and compassion for other people. And I think that my way of sort of giving back is by giving other people the opportunity to tell their stories,” Lyons said. “I just

and her family moved to Castroville from Harlingen when she was in middle school. According to Lyons, the culture shock that she experienced in that transition taught her valuable lessons about difference and acceptance. “Being put into a new community and having to meet new people really kind of opened me up to being willing to want to talk to different people and be around different people and accept people for who they are,” she said. “And be willing to be different, also, within a community and knowing that I could accepted anyhow…that willingness to sort of be myself, I think, really developed in those high school years.” Though in some ways an outsider, Lyons came to appreciate the culture and values of Castroville. “It’s just a really unique culture, and…they really respect and they’ve really held on to their culture and I think you see that really clearly coming in from an outside perspective,” Lyons said. “You see how pure and how rooted they are in their background and their history. It’s a really cool thing, you know? It’s not diluted

“I’m a very strong Christian, and…I pray for every person as I edit their image,” she said. “This is really something that I want to give to God and let him be glorified. My talent and skill is photographing people, and the way that I’m able to glorify God is using my talent…and I feel that, as long as I continue to do that, then the next thing that I need to do really

for others, which Lyons has gained through her life. “There’s a saying that goes, ‘Be kind, for everybody you know is fighting a great battle,’ and I try to live by that,” said Lyons. “I’ve been through some hard things in life, and I wasn’t raised with a lot. I didn’t grow up with a lot. I lived in a trailer on the side of Highway 90. Now my life is full of sort of being at these posh

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parties where I photograph NBA players and celebrities. And it’s easy for me to stay grounded because of my upbringing and background. I don’t get caught up in the sort of like…flash in the pan kind of stuff.” For Lyons, the steadiness, simplicity and humility which grounds her life was something she learned from her upbringing and environs in Castroville. “I think that that’s the beauty of being out in a place like Castroville, is that you are shown the beauty of a simple life and you’re not given this comparison. [It’s] only now that I realize that living in a singlewide trailer maybe isn’t the most glamorous of lifestyles, because nobody ever judged me for that,” Lyons said. “[In Castroville], people’s respect didn’t come from how much façade I could have. The quality of a person was in their character, not what their bank account looked like. So now, when I’m in situations where it’s all about bank accounts and flash, it just doesn’t phase me because that’s not what I learned, and that’s not what I grew up with.” The diversity of her subjects is made meaningful through the continuity of their presentation, the common eye behind the lens looking for the best side and their common humanity. “I try to see the best in people and love on them and, you know, I don’t really judge,” Lyons said. “So, I [give] everybody respect and the exact same look in the exact same lighting, and the exact same opportunity regardless of if they’re homeless or regardless of if they’re David Robinson. They’re all put in an equal stance in this project. That, to me, is important.”

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