Local stylist Victor Bracero and local photographer Sara Renee are partnering up to style and photograph residents selected to honor their vision of The City with Spirit.
The two local professionals agreed to donate their time and talent to capture the essence of a community that has become rich in diversity, Southern hospitality and traditional values. Both say they appreciate and are proud to call Cleveland their home.
Bracero, originally from New York, has been styling and coloring hair in Cleveland for 10 years. His wife works in the Cleveland City Schools system and their three children are all involved in the schools and local community. When asked why he chose to donate his time and talent to bring attention to influential faces of Cleveland, Bracero responded, “When Sara approached me about this project I thought about what Cleveland is made of. You rarely hear about the people behind the scenes. So I was excited to get involved and show the faces of the people behind what goes on here, how it operates and why we have so many donations and events going on with the children. So I was excited to get behind this and do it! Yes, let’s show the real people of Cleveland, the everyday people that we don’t see or think of, but who are doing incredible things!”
Renee, who spent her childhood traveling the world and has lived in Cleveland a total of nine years, added, “We want to photograph Cleveland’s iconic faces — the people who make our sandwiches, deliver our mail, business owners and the local heroes who have helped build and shape the Cleveland we love. I love it here! This is a way for us to say thank you to the community for making it possible to live our dreams as small business owners. This is done totally free. I’m not a ‘hidden-cost’ kind of girl. We just wanted to say thank you.”
The 27-year-old owner of The Adventures and Photographs of Sara Renee recently married Cleveland transplant Adam Clark, who she calls “the love of my life.” The newlyweds bought a house together in Cleveland and said they are excited about their future in Bradley County and other potential projects to promote the citizens of Cleveland.
“Our goal with this project is to photograph some of the people in Cleveland that we look up to and respect,” Renee said. “Depending on how this goes, we’re considering having a public photo shoot where people will be able to come in to be styled and photographed. It will be similar to Faces of Cleveland, but for just one afternoon — an all-day event — and by appointment. There would be music, food and drink. We also hope to release the photos from this (Faces of Cleveland) project and have them on display at local businesses or as an exhibit. We’ll see.”
The Faces of Cleveland project started on April 28 and will continue through Monday, May 5. Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland, one of those chosen for the Faces of Cleveland, said, “I think it’s a great idea because this community is made up of so many people, such a diversity of population, who make good things happen, like the recent Make A Difference Day Award the city received. It’s because so many people do so many things to make a difference in the lives of our community. I’m honored to be a part of it. In looking at some of the folks who’s been selected I can see that these are people who, in so many areas in our community, make a difference every day in somebody’s life.”
Cleveland Police Officer Evie West said she is excited to be a part of the special project, stating, “What an honor to be asked to represent the beautiful city of Cleveland, Tennessee. When I moved here in 1996 to attend Lee College, I didn’t know that I would permanently call Cleveland my home. However, not only am I a citizen of this great community, I also have the privilege to serve the residents and visitors as a public servant. I look forward to the opportunity of working with Sara Renee and Victor, highlighting their skills as professionals and their vision to honor Cleveland, The City With Spirit.”
According to Renee, who enjoys a special fondness for shooting more outdoors photos with natural lighting than people sitting in a studio and posing for the camera, her style of photography is able to capture both mainstream and pop culture convenience.
“When I shoot, I try to shoot for three people — myself, my mom and my client,” Renee said. “I like lens flare, like when the sun is behind you making a rim of light around you? I like that. My mom does not like lens flare. So when I’m shooting I’ll get the same shot the way I like it, then the way my mom likes it, which is more traditional. That way the client can decide which image they prefer.”
As far as Renee and Bracero volunteering their time and talents to capture the faces of those making Cleveland a metropolitan area with its own mannerism and mystique, the two contributors said they are happy to do it.
“I am super excited,” Renee said. “I love Cleveland so much! I’ve been developing this idea in my brain since I moved here. We’ve made a list and invited specific people. So far, 20 have made appointments and we’re waiting to hear back from 10 or 15 more. Victor and I are happy to be able to donate our time and talent. He is an awesome stylist. He’s been cutting my hair ever since I started going to Lee (University) in 2004.”
For further information about The Adventures and Photographs of Sara Renee, visit sararenee.com. For further information on Victor Bracero, Hair Studio, call 790-5600.