Tuesday, December 20, 2011
August Bradley: 99 Faces Of Occupy Wall Street
August Bradley goes viral with a personal project that was simple to execute and brought immediate media attention
|This Article Features Photo Zoom|
As the Arab Spring showed us just this last year, communication has become, for all practical purposes, instantaneous. Sharing images, thoughts and words with a global population has become as simple as running a Twitter account, and because of it the world of photography is meeting a new class of citizen photojournalist. Still, despite a middling economy, there's plenty of room for traditional photojournalism in the digital age. As a new project from conceptual photographer August Bradley proves, efforts can be maximized to produce images that are seen throughout the world in only a few short days.
Bradley, who comes from a marketing background, says that his initial impulse to document Occupy Wall Street (OWS) came from two principle sources: a desire to move more significantly into portrait work, and a personal curiosity and lack of understanding about the movement in general. "The entire movement seemed like this big mystery," he explains about his preconceptions. "There are no front people, there are no personalities widely identified with it. It's as if the entire movement was behind a Guy Fawkes mask, making the mask an appropriate symbol…the mystery of it was intriguing to me."
Once live as a dedicated website portal (www.99facesofoccupywallst.org) that he kept separate from his own, attention to the project was almost instantaneous. "The site went live late on a Wednesday," says Bradley, "at which time I posted it to my blog, Facebook and Twitter account (@augustbradley). That Thursday and Friday, most of the OWS blogs, Twitter accounts and digital publications were posting it including a home page post on Adbusters, the media publication that inspired the occupy movement in the first place. That sent a big spike in traffic and hundreds of Twitter tweets and Facebook posts."
Bradley notes that despite a few Internet trolls and a bit of paranoia about FBI and police profiling from the Occupiers at Zuccotti Park, the feedback and attention was overwhelmingly positive. When asked about the longevity of the project, and why he thinks that this particular series struck a chord, characteristically Bradley is both realistic and optimistic about the long-term possibilities. "The project is certainly riding the news-cycle momentum of the larger Occupy Movement story, he says, "but within that collection of competing headlines, I think this project really gave a personal touch to something that seems impersonal. The idea of a large movement, especially one without any personalities at the forefront, does not resonate as well as the story of an individual looking at you right in the eye."
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