So nice to see this piece on Jose Contreras come together for Queens Magazine. Inspiring story about overcoming obstacles and staying determined. Such a great kid. Jose was so easy to work with and had such a great J. Crew look that fit his personality and really complimented the background. Queens wanted to create a backdrop that resembled a chalkboard to meet some art direction ideas they had. Finding the perfect chalkboard that was large enough to shoot and that offered enough room to move around was going to be too tricky, so I came up with the idea of brushing chalk over a black backdrop to create a similar look. The hardest part was trying to avoid making wrinkles and divots in the paper from our hands and knees as we applied the chalk. But the end product came out so much better than we had anticipated and really gave the portraits some texture.