Photographing the human condition

without having humans in the frame

Is it just me or is everyone trying to be a street photographer? Photographs of strangers on the streets fill the gaps between cat and food photos in my Instagram feed. I love street photography as much as you do and if you look through the photos on my phone or even website you will find prime evidence that I am a street photographer as well.
The draw to street photography is the people. Unique, shocking, in your face photographs showing people moving through the frame and their life. Having a person in the frame allows the viewer to connect through empathy, disgust, or a variety of other human feelings. It is in our nature to connect with other human beings and good street photography pulls at that very basic nerve hard.
Lately though I have been drawn more to photographs that tell the human narrative without humans. This is true with my own photography as well as others. Without a human to connect to in the photograph I am able to lead the viewer into self reflection. The photograph doesn’t give the viewer the basic empathetic connection to another person. Instead they have to look at the photograph. Decide what it means to them, what it means to the people around them.
In my photography I look to make the viewer ask questions about the structural landscape around them. The houses and business but also the roads and parking lots. What is the point of all this? Is it all really necessary or is it just comfortable and familiar?
Photographs with people in them can elicit strong responses but sometimes those responses don’t translate to real change. When people are removed the viewer seems to be more realistic with their answers. They can form an opinion about what their neighborhood or community should be that might actually be possible instead of just idealistic.
But maybe I am the one being idealistic about what my work means.
Time will tell.
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