Again, and again… the courage to take photographs of people. And of scenes that are often less than beautiful. This is America. There are certainly more facets to America, or to any other nation, that can be counted but there are parallels in every nation. These are urban shots, for example, many taken in cities with millions of people. How does isolation happen in throngs of millions? Where does loneliness come from? How do some sleep rough while the others are at home dreaming of nothing more important than brunch?
I am not absolving myself of the guilt of negligence nor selfishness nor self-indulgence. There’s a weird phenomenon, and I don’t know how many other people experience it. It’s a kind of emotional exhaustion with the condition of things. A few weeks ago I got off the train at 116th Street in Rockaway Beach. I exited the station and made a right hand turn towards the beach. There was a gauntlet of panhandlers outside the front doors and reaching the end of the line, there was still a man asking. I paused for a moment, feeling more frustrated and annoyed right in that moment than anything else. I wanted to ask that last man what made him think that after passing a line of people with their hands out, that I would choose him as “the one.” Don’t get it twisted. The answer is simple. It’s just need. It’s nothing more than need.
Need is a strange animal. It exists on countless levels and it’s not just the people at the bottom. There is an entire spectrum. I’m not talking about perceived need here. Not everybody who uses or feels the word in their hearts actually needs any fucking thing. There is a spectrum of real need though. A man can need to eat, or a man can simply need to connect and talk. Etc.
I don’t know. There is a certain talent that it takes to take photos full of people and things that still depict that big emptiness. How do you portray isolation in a photograph in the middle of a city. Maybe the answer there is simple too; if it exists you can photograph it. The photographer here has probably been interviewed numerous times and made statements about what he is looking for in subjects. There is probably some manner of mission statement. I will get around to that, but for the moment it’s the photos themselves. They are alarmingly familiar, like I know these people.