Brothers & Sisters

about Joseph Crachiola

Rhonda, Kathy, Lisa, Chris and Robert, brothers and sisters playing not far from photographer Joseph Crachiola’s newsroom at the Macomb Daily, in Mt. Clemens, Michigan, July 31, 1973. 40 years later, on the occasion of the acquittal of Florida resident George Zimmerman in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, Joseph thinks to post the photo on Facebook, just as balm for the anger of many people about that sentence. The result is millions in views, likes and shares, besides a curiosity about the children in the photo: Who are them? Where are they now?

Joseph says he’s spoken to four of the five children. At the time they were Rhonda Shelly, 3, Kathy Macool, 7, Lisa Shelly, 5, Chris Macool, 9, and Robert Shelly, 6. Robert Shelly “is now 46 and works for the Macomb County Road Commission as a mechanic.” Shelly’s baby sister Rhonda — behind the shopping cart — was barely out of toddlerhood when the photo was taken “and doesn’t remember a thing about that day.” Kathy Macool now lives in Texarkana, Texas, and her brother Chris lives near Houston, in Sealy, Texas. Chris told Joseph that when their photo appeared in the paper the day after he met them, their mom had one concern: “She wanted to know where the shopping cart came from. She was worried that they had stolen it and that they would get in trouble.”

The photograph has reaffirmed for Joseph the power of the still image: “Even before I became a professional, I was intrigued by the power of the still image and its ability to make people think. I was captivated by the idea that if I could cause even one person to see things from a different perspective then I might also be able to make the world a better place in some small way. It’s good to know that even in this day and age, when we are bombarded by imagery from every direction, that one photograph can matter to someone. I doubt if I’ll ever make another photograph as good as this one, but this one image has given me reason enough to keep trying.

Joseph began his photographic life in the late sixties in the Detroit, Michigan area. He spent about fifteen years as a news photographer, twenty-two years as a corporate photographer, and six years as a photography instructor at a community college near Detroit. For several years he operated a studio in Detroit. In the spring of 2009 he relocated to New Orleans, where he continues to pursue his art. His work has been displayed at several galleries in the Detroit Metro area and in New Orleans, and is included in the permanent collections of the Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan.

Joseph is also a musician — guitar, tenor sax — and an avid sailor. He likes food and wine and, whenever he can, he likes to jump on a plane and go somewhere.


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