One of Us: Zoe Strauss

The photographer who’s made a career capturing “the beauty and struggle of everyday life” just completed the final year of her decade-long exhibition under the I-95 overpass. But trips to Louisiana to shoot oil-soaked beaches and a 2012 solo exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art keep her knee-deep in new projects. Here, her take on her art, anarchists and Lord of the Rings

I am a … lesbian feminist.

I was born in … Pennsylvania Hospital on Pine Street.

I’ve lived in Philadelphia for … 38 years.

The thing I like most about myself is … my optimism.

One thing I’d change about myself is … my lack of organization.

My greatest extravagance is … sushi.

The place I’d most like to live someday is … South Philadelphia, just in a bigger rowhome.  

My real-life hero is … Emma Goldman.

The best thing I own is … my studio on Cantrell Street, although the bank really owns that.  

Garces or Vetri? … I’m certain they’re both excellent, but this is a question for someone who makes a lot more money than I do.

The ugliest thing I’ve ever photographed is … a child’s drawing of group sex.  

The best photograph I’ve ever taken … is still waiting to happen.

One thing this city doesn’t have that it really needs is … the right for lesbians and gay men to be legally married.  

I wish this city had fewer … overhead wires.  

The best place to vacation is … Brigantine, New Jersey, although Palm Springs, California, is up there.

If I could have any other job, I’d be … independently wealthy.

The best books I’ve ever read areDune by Frank Herbert (and I am totally not ashamed of loving science fiction, even though my lady rolled her eyes when I read her this answer) and Trash and Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison.

The best thing on TV isMad Men.

My favorite place to shop is … Xenos on Chestnut Street.

One of the skills I most wish I had is … being fluent in a number of languages.

My greatest achievements are … I-95, locking down the greatest wife ever, and reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy aloud to Alex and Brian Mechanick.

I always take my guests to … Marra’s.

I’m just so sick of … people acting like assholes.

I found the love of my life … at the old West Coast Video on Locust Street.

Philadelphians need to … sweep up outside more and stop with the fucking littering already.

I actually think … Philadelphia accents are beautiful. Right now, 
I’d be so happy if I heard someone with a Philadelphia accent saying, “Go get a coconut doughnut and a glass of water.”