Alabama-based photographer Cary Norton didn’t have to travel far to meet a real-life superhero. Birmingham native Austin Perine (@presidentaustinshowlove) was so moved by the plight of the homeless in his hometown that he began to regularly donate his allowance to purchase meals for 25 to 50 individuals at a time. News of Austin’s altruism quickly spread, and now, supported by corporate and community donations, four-year-old Austin – accompanied by his father, TJ – travels across the country to serve up 800 to 1,000 meals at a time. Reader’s Digest asked Cary to take photographs for their recent feature on the inspiring young activist. Check out his portraits (with Cary’s commentary) below!
What was the shoot like?
The shoot was pretty low key. We met up downtown in Birmingham, which is the area where Austin first started distributing food and drinks. Austin was shy at first but really came out of his shell once he started engaging with folks. We made some portraits outside of our city hall – channeling the whole superhero thing – and then moved to our city’s amazing public park (Railroad Park) to have a view of the Birmingham skyline in the background. The assignment came from associate photo editor Matthew Cohen at Reader’s Digest, but the shoot was just Austin, his dad TJ, and me.
Can you say some more about why you chose the sites you did?
We knew we’d be in the downtown area and one of the areas is a park near city hall so shooting there was a good fit. Ultimately shooting against the skyline was the best look for the heroic look they were hoping for.
What was your favorite part of the shoot?
Watching Austin interact with the people he was serving. There was lots of gratitude and a few hugs; it was just a really positive experience.
Given the inspirational nature of Austin’s story, was there anything in particular that you wanted these portraits to convey?
I really wanted to give a classic superhero feel to the shoot, but also wanted the photographs to be really fun and to highlight the fact that he’s so young.
See more of Cary’s work on his website.
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