Aaron Bludworth describes himself as a CEO, a father of five and a Mormon.
You’ll notice that bleeding-heart liberal is nowhere on the list. In fact Bludworth was a lifelong Republican until he left the party last year, and he still considers himself very much a conservative.
But Bludworth has spent countless hours over the past year taking thousands of photos that focus on people in need.
There’s his haunting photo of a little boy and his mom in Chicago. The two were sitting in a doorway on a cold, winter day because they had nowhere to live.
It’s not exactly the kind of pastime you might expect from a CEO who travels the world for Fern, the Cincinnati-based marketing and tradeshow services company that he and his business partners bought in 2005. But there’s more to Bludworth than the assumptions people might make based on his home address and political beliefs. Bludworth argues there’s more to the people he photographs, too.
“Through the lens, I think you see things differently. And that’s really apparent with people more than other things,” he told me. “I think you start to recognize that there’s not just a common class of people who are in poverty. People are there from a bunch of different circumstances. And if you engage with people, they become a lot more personal than just a category.”
For the past three years, I have spent the bulk of my time at WCPO reporting on poverty, with an emphasis on childhood poverty.
The biggest challenge has not been finding stories. It has been finding ways to make readers and viewers care.
If you’ve never been worried about how you will feed your family or where you will sleep at night, it can be difficult to feel compassion for families in need. So when I heard about Bludworth, I was eager to ask him about why he takes his photographs and what makes him care about the people in his pictures who seem to have so little in common with him.
As it turns out, the answer is pretty simple, and it has everything to do with Bludworth’s faith.