🎉 2022 Shortlist
Black Joy Photo Series
Entrant: Chicago Bulls
- Excellence in Black Storytelling
ABOUT THIS ENTRY
The Black Joy Photo Series showcases images of Black joy through basketball from the perspective of three up-and-coming photographers, all of whom are Black Chicago-natives.
How does this represent “Excellence in Engagement”?
Each photographer's approach to the project displayed the diversity of their artistic viewpoints, the dimensions of Black joy in our city, and the depth of Chicago’s creative community, which the Bulls leaned on to create connections with the featured photographers. This project put community in the driver’s seat, allowing the everyday basketball fan to see themselves reflected on the Bulls’ platform. Leveraging our extensive following and global reach to help create a more equitable and just Chicago is a core goal of the Bulls organization. The series intentionally included artists who identify as female or non-binary as to not limit the series’ artistic viewpoint to those typically depicted and speaks to the of power professional sports teams to further push equity and inclusion through off-the-court initiatives. In the end, the series called attention to the importance of diversity in news coverage, the positive facets of the Black community and the power of basketball to generate joy and community.
Objective: To counter the largely negative mainstream media coverage of Chicago’s Black community, the Bulls used its platform this season to highlight another side of the Black experience, one of joy and positivity. The Black Joy Photo Series illustrates Black joy through basketball in Chicago from the lens of three up-and-coming Black photographers. Each were given complete creative control over who and where they photographed, allowing them to showcase their unique, artistic interpretations of the assignment. The result is a collection of photos that depict Black women, men, non-binary individuals, lifelong friends and strangers collectively reveling in the joys of being Black, brought together by their love of basketball. In addition to capturing the beauty and abundance of Black joy in Chicago the photo series intentionally amplifies the work of Black artists specifically, providing them an opportunity to reclaim the world’s perception of Blackness in Chicago, increase their visibility among the Bulls’ global audience and expand their network, which speaks to the Bulls’ overall goal of providing professional and personal growth opportunities to people of color across the city.
Strategy & Execution: In collaboration with Diageo, the Bulls developed the "Black Joy Photo Series,” tapping veteran Chicago creatives to recommend three up-and-coming Black photographers to participate in the assignment. Once identified, the Bulls tasked each photographer to capture the good happening in Chicago's Black community through basketball and the joys of being Black and to reclaim how mainstream media often portrays the Black experience in Chicago and beyond. The photos, which highlight basketball’s power to unite strangers and build community, were displayed through the Bulls’ television broadcast and in-arena during the team’s annual Black History Month Game on February 7, 2022. For the modern sports fan who doesn’t consume their media via television or don’t have the resources to attend games in person, but who are a part of the Bulls community nonetheless, the photos were shared across Bulls social media platforms and on the Bulls website.
Results: This project achieved effective engagement by allowing the series’ photographers to capture the communities and neighborhoods that are most meaningful to them instead of limiting them to an organization’s creative vision. Community engagement and positive news coverage shouldn’t be limited to one area of the city, which is often the case due to overwhelming segregation in Chicago. In all, 28 community members and over five Chicago community spaces were included in the final photos that were displayed in-arena, on social media and bulls.com. During the broadcast drop for the Bulls’ Black History Month game, viewers at home were encouraged to visit the Bulls’ website to see the full photo series and links to the artist’s online portfolios. This generated increased exposure for the local artists who were selected for this project, one of whom is now a freelance photographer for Bulls community relations events, further increasing his visibility and network through a partnership with our organization This project also speaks to the Bulls’ innovative approach to leveraging its partnerships to uplift Chicagoans of color, which we hope will generate future partnerships with organizations that also value community investment.
Vashon Jordan Jr.
JB for Governor
Documentary Artist and Creative Director
Visual Creator, with a focus on Photography and Art Direction
Manager of Corporate Communications
Vice President of Community Engagement and Executive Director of Chicago Bulls Charities
Community Relations Manager, Social Responsibility