One of Cafe Art's biggest supporters in the past two years has passed away suddenly in London. Chris Cheesman was the news editor for Amateur Photographer magazine and helped judge the MyLondon Photography Contest in 2015 and 2016. We are a very small social enterprise and we could not succeed without the support of people like Chris. When we approached him, after an introduction by The Royal Photographic Society in early 2015, we were hopeful of getting him on our judging panel, and we were overjoyed when he accepted.
It was Chris's article in Amateur Photographer in August 2015 that propelled us, and our Kickstarter, into the stratosphere. We had not thought of approaching the media until the actual October launch of the calendar, but Chris said we should not only put out the photos, but also the stories from the photographers in August.
The rest is history: we went viral in the US after Chris's article was published - within hours. It was slow at first - the US photography websites and magazines emailing us after seeing Chris's article (PetaPixel was the first). Soon it snowballed, with Buzzfeed, Bored Panda and even the Today Show in New York asking for our photos and story. Then in Europe we were covered by news organisations in Germany, Spain and Italy, and finally back in the UK the media found us. Chris kept promoting the project, and presented the winning photographer (judges' choice) at the exhibition opening last year. This year he wrote another great article about the project again in August.
We last heard from Chris a few weeks ago when he emailed to say he was in hospital and that he was sorry to miss the launch of the calendar, which happened last week.
We did not know Chris well, but from the short time we knew him he made a lasting impression on us. He willingly gave his time, despite being an obviously very busy man. Rest in peace Chris, we will miss you.