In my practice I use series of individual photographic portraits to discuss community, belonging, family structure, social structure, and impermanence. I have long been interested in how individuals choose to inhabit the world, starting with the life they are given and moving on to the one they create. The details of that journey are reflected in gestures, expressions and dress that can be captured with photography, and can in turn reflect larger societal truths.
In 2010, after years of working as an editorial photographer—first for the Associated Press in Jerusalem and later for national publications such as The New York Times magazine, The New Yorker, Time Magazine, Esquire, New York Magazine, Wired, Fortune and many others—I began to shift my practice and became more interested in working in a contemporary art context.
My first series, Full Time Preferred: Portraits of Love, Work, and Dependence, depicted nannies and the children they care for in a formal studio setting as a way to probe issues around domestic labor and family structure. From that project I determined that by portraying a group of people as a collection of distinctive individuals, I could simultaneously speak to the individual humanity of each person and to the structural and economic forces that shape their lives. This has become the basis of my practice.
Since 2010, I have continued to work serially. Each project has focused on a specific group of people: transportation workers, domestic laborers, high school students, the formerly homeless, Bell’s palsy patients, the diverse and woven community around a crumbling racetrack, and most recently, through a participatory art project, mentors in the Inglewood community. I have at times introduced environmental and architectural imagery as well, to add context, texture, and dimensionality.
I use specific formal techniques—dramatic lighting, accentuated detail, and often a dark backdrop—that dramatize my subjects, shifting them from away objective documentation toward a more conceptual representation. I am increasingly interested in how to accentuate the narrative qualities of my photographs and have begun to collage imagery and to layer portraits with other images. I have also experimented with photographing the residual traces of human lives. A recent series, for instance, omits portraiture altogether and examines a community by focusing only on their surroundings.