Jessie Villanueva: The Sneaker Connoisseur is an audio slideshow by Alexis Mainland, Andrew Kueneman and Todd Heisler. It was part of the New York Times’ “One in 8 Million” series. I found it enduring, effective, and well-done. The subject matter may not necessarily deal with something that is of great importance or scarcity, but I feel the reporters did a wonderful job capturing Villanueva’s day-to-day life and how big of a part sneakers are to his life.Jesse Villanueva, 32, has an unusual affinity for shoes. He has hundreds of sneakers that amount to thousands of dollars, and he will go to great lengths to get those sneakers.
The photos illustrate a man who centers his whole day around shoes, constantly being surrounded by them whether he is at work or at home.
Though, he does recognize his almost-obsession for sneakers, the photos capture his ebullient attitude towards sneakers, which makes the photos very effective. There are multiple shots in the slideshow where Villanueva looks giddy and proud to be wearing certain sneakers or to see some of them, which adds a light-hearted layer to the story, and almost prevents it from being a creepy obsession.
I feel the photos and the interview do an excellent job working off of each other, because the they not only illustrate the importance of sneakers in Villanueva’s life, but it is also an extension of the sneaker culture as a whole. It was both intimate and broad.