While studying at the Tuskegee Institute in the late 1960s, Chester Higgins Jr. also worked as business manager for The Campus Digest, the student newspaper, selling advertising to local businesses. While visiting the studio of P.H. Polk, the university photographer, Higgins came upon portraits of farmers made during the Depression that reminded him of the people back home. Polk explained that he lived on a street where farmers passed on market day, and every now and then he would notice what he considered “an outstanding character.” Polk would run out of the house and approach them with an offer they couldn’t refuse. If they were willing to spend 15-20 minutes in his studio, Polk would take their photo and pay them $5 ($110 today).