Matt Posey, Ochre House Theater. (Photo courtesy of Chad Windham)

When we last saw Chad Windham, he was helping bring the 2026 World Cup to North America and planning another successful business year. Then the coronavirus hit. Jobs got canceled or postponed, and the East Dallas photographer had to pursue other projects to stay viable. Now, he’s using his eye and his art to show what’s happening to local businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. In a series of portraits, Windham presents the faces of business owners who had to close their doors because of the outbreak. He started in our neighborhood with Murray Street Coffee Shop in Deep Ellum and Good Records on Garland Road. Through word of mouth, he’s expanded to other Dallas neighborhoods, Arlington and Allen.

How has the coronavirus affected your work?

I’ve been out of work since March 3. I shot a health care conference in San Antonio. When I got home, I started checking emails, and jobs were going away. I had been booked all the way through June. I was planning a great year. I needed something to make myself viable. I started [this project] about a month ago in late March. I shoot Monday, Wednesday, Friday. I’m doing three to five a day. They turn into pretty busy days. Sessions takes 30 minutes to an hour.

How did this project get started?

Murray Street had a sign up that said they couldn’t even afford to do curbside right now. They’re friends, so I said, “Let’s do a picture,” and it grew from there. It inspired me to want to put a face to the closed doors. It’s easy to say all small businesses are closed, and a certain percentage of them won’t make it. It’s easy to see those stats, but when you see the faces, it makes it more personal.

What safety precautions have you taken?

The concept is to keep something in the foreground out of focus to convey social distancing. I wear masks and gloves. We always keep our distance. There’s no hugs at the end of a shoot like there usually is. Sometimes I’ve shot through windows and not gone inside with the people. We scrub everything down with sterilized wipes when we leave. Everyone seems diligent about it.

What’s next for you?

The project is ongoing. I just want to keep doing it. I’m enjoying it. It’s cathartic. It’s giving me the freedom to be creative without an art director. It’s fun to be able to do that again.

If you or someone you know is a business owner and would like to participate, email chad@chadwindham.com.

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