Midtown Raleigh News

Face the Day: Portrait project takes new look at beauty in all of us

Molly Killorin was typing on her laptop and sipping hot coffee when Tracey Spampinato came over to her table at a local coffee shop.

The Raleigh woman was a bit wary when Spampinato asked for help on a photography project. But when Spampinato told her that she was taking a photo of a different person every day and had noticed her pretty eyes, Killorin agreed to have her picture taken.

With two clicks of the shutter, Killorin became Spampinato’s photo of the day for Year Two, Day 225.

Every day for the past year and half, Spampinato has headed out with her camera to find a new person or animal for the project she has named Face the Day. The Raleigh resident doesn’t look for just the obviously attractive people, but those with interesting features or a unique look.

“Everyone has features that are special,” Spampinato said. “While they may not look like Barbie or Ken, we each have features that are beautiful, and I see that as soon I look through my lens.”

Sometimes she asks people she knows, and other days she approaches strangers. She has taken pictures of people she saw in the airport, the man spraying for termites at her house, a woman at the post office and even strangers in the grocery store.

“Neighbors call me when they are having company so I can get my face for the day. I think I have gotten all of my daughter’s teachers at some point,” Spampinato said.

She was initially nervous asking strangers to pose but has been surprised that almost everyone says yes.

Kathy Reese said she was taken aback when Spampinato approached her a few months ago as she was walking through her church.

“I normally would not want to have my photograph taken, but I could tell she was looking more for the inner beauty of the person, and it really put me at ease,” said Reese, a Raleigh resident. “I really like that she’s trying to show we don’t have to be beautiful to have an inner beauty.”

Anything with a face

Spampinato started the Face the Day project to learn to use the manual setting on her camera and decided that taking a picture each day with a different subject would be a great way to practice. She has always liked to take pictures but never had any formal photography training and works full-time as a medical writer.

When she started in August 2010, her only rules were that no subject repeat and that her subject had to be alive with a face.

“I have pictures of bugs, dogs, adults, kids and babies,” Spampinato said. “I even took a picture of an alligator at the zoo.”

Teaching her daughters

Her original plan was to do the project for a year, but after seeing the positive impact on her two daughters, ages 10 and 14, she decided to continue.

“My girls are really starting to have peer pressure and are concerned with looking perfect,” Spampinato said. “But by helping me find my face for the day, they are starting to see beauty differently than many people do.”

She said that one day her daughters pointed out a man in a restaurant with great teeth, and another day they noticed a woman’s long hair.

Spampinato gives cards to her “models,” listing the website where she has a slideshow of all of the photos. Her website doesn’t include the names of her subjects, just their faces.

She has been surprised to find that she has developed a following on the Internet and often gets emails from strangers complimenting specific photos. Knowing that people are following her work inspires her to keep asking strangers to pose for a picture, she said.

“I see the beauty in all my faces and then I feel like I have done my job. I want people to see the character in people’s faces, not just their perfect looks.”