Special to the Herald
NEW BRITAIN -As Erik Williams, aka Eaze, flipped through a recently published book of photography for the first time at the Miss Washington Diner, a waitress passed by and glanced at Eaze’s black-and-white imagery. The book was open to a portrait of a homeless couple.
“That guy looks familiar. Was this done around here?” asked the waitress.
Eaze, with a smile, said he was driving down the streets of Middletown when he saw a homeless couple on the side of the road. As Eaze went to give them a few dollars, he saw a kid walk by and give the child some food from his pocket.
Eaze asked the man and woman if it was OK to take their picture. The woman asked why and Eaze says it was because he saw the beauty and love in that situation. The woman said to hold on so her children could see. She reached into her book bag to remove two carrots in doll’s clothing. She put them on the ground as the man asked, “What’s going on?”
“Shut up and take the picture,” says the woman. As she kissed him, Eaze captures the moment.
And just like that, Ryan Estevez, the book’s publisher, living here in New Britain, had achieved his goal.
Estevez created “This Book Has Pictures Inside,” a photography book highlighting artists from all around the world, including those who call Connecticut home.
Estevez is the founder of the creative, design, and branding company Avenue Republic.
He contacted the artists through Instagram to put together the 148-page picture book. Images are captured from Chicago and Texas as well as Shanghai and Venice. Estevez sifted through Instagram and sent a general message to the photographers he admired to see if they would like to have their works published. His purpose isn’t to make money, but to highlight artists’ photos by creating a collaborative work of beauty.
The artists were told that they would not be compensated for the sales with Estevez only pulling in a few bucks in profit from each purchase. The book retails for $50, but is currently on sale on self-publishing website Lulu for $36.75.
Lulu is a “publish-on-demand” site. Only when the book is purchased on the publish-on-demand site is it printed for sale.
“This was more of a love project. If it does well, then it does well. It can’t really tank,” Estevez said. “I think it’s really important that the basis of it was to create something and it was a universal love project.”
Estevez even got his 8-year-old daughter in on the fun. The cover art is the title of the book handwritten against a white background, and his daughter is the artist.
Estevez said he loves getting artists together. Those connections can get people hired as well as spark their creative minds.
“It’s inspiring me to follow my heart and follow my passion and chase my dreams,” Eaze said. “This is what I was born to do, and anything else is lies. This is it.”
“I have a great sense of joy knowing that the person on the other side of the table is happy that I did something for them,” Estevez said. Seeing Eaze’s smile as he’s telling the story behind his art to that waitress signifies a job well done.
The book can be purchased on Lulu by visiting: www.lulu.com/shop/ryan-estevez/this-book-has-pictures-inside/paperback/product-23197510.html .