The Photographic Journal


Essay 253 • Feb 12th 2018

Within minutes of meeting the young man known as Grandfather, I see how his old soul and deferential manner have earned him his stage name.

We’re sitting on his bed surrounded by his paintings as I ask him about how he became an artist. He says he’s pretty much always wanted to be one, ever since he remembers seeing and emulating his father’s drawings as a child. It’s not long before I ask him to play the vintage organ I’ve been eyeing in the corner. He quickly loosens up, deftly improvising and telling me about the photo of his grandfather on the music stand. He was also a musician and inspiration for Kris.

Later, he treats me to a glimpse of the outstanding depth and breadth of his talents. One minute he’s reciting a poem he wrote, the next I’m getting a private screening of his short film. Then I’m hearing a brilliant new song he’s writing, followed by one of several photo projects worthy of any gallery.

In 5 years, Kris envisions being a full time producer and musician. I see all this and more happening, and much sooner. 


Ellie Pritts was born and raised in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood. Her love affair with photography began at Columbia College when she was 14, where her work was featured in their Museum Of Contemporary Photography. She’s now an internationally-recognized photographer, cinematographer and the founder of the world’s first collaborative photography app, Hippo. Her imaginative work has captured the attention of esteemed publications such as TIME, who recently named her one of the top photographers to follow in the United States. Ellie is currently an Art Director for Apple’s #ShotoniPhone campaign.

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Model: Grandfather