Bob Rehak is a writer/photographer who started his career in Chicago. His work has won Best of Show Awards at the Clios, Cannes Film Festival, International Broadcasting Awards, New York Art Director’s Club and the Addys.
Rehak’s passion for writing and photography, led him to spend four years photographing and interviewing the people of Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood from 1973 to 1977. He began shortly after the OPEC oil embargo in 1973 threw the nation into a deep recession characterized by high unemployment and high inflation. In part, he wanted to document the effect of the embargo on one of Chicago’s poorest, most diverse and densely populated neighborhoods.
He spent weekends, evenings, holidays and vacations trudging through the streets of Uptown, documenting every facet of the neighborhood. Rehak’s objective was to create a portrait of Uptown by photographing the people who comprised it.
The Chicago Tribune Magazine published many of Rehak’s photos in the late 1970s. Rehak then put the negatives in a closet and moved on to other things, developing an interest in wildlife and landscape photography.
In August of 2013, Rehak started a photoblog (bobrehak.com) and posted several of his Uptown photos, thinking they might help land his company some commercial work that involved gritty portraiture. Within a week, however, the Uptown photos went viral. Since then, his site has received more than 8 million visitors. The interest led to the publication of his book Uptown: Portrait of a Chicago Neighborhood in the Mid-1970s by Chicago’s Books Press.