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|
"I am sympathetic to the OWS movement, though the purpose was not to advocate it," he says. "The purpose was to give a platform for those involved to communicate to a national audience what they are doing at Zuccotti Park, to address the curiosities I knew many people across the country had. And as you see from the results, those motives vary quite a bit from person to person… I expressed no viewpoint at all to the subjects, we merely said, 'We're doing a portrait series on OWS, can we include you?' If they said yes, we handed them a clipboard with one question: 'Why are you here (at Occupy Wall Street)?' The form also had a short release and asked for their first name. If anyone said no, we just moved on."
"We had a lot of images to do in one day, and we were grabbing everyone and anyone involved as we moved through the park… Some people had more alternative looks and others were very mainstream. What makes this protest movement different from the ones we have seen on a regular basis is both the size and the significant active involvement of people who mainstream suburban America would identify with—people who could be their next-door neighbors. While this part of the group is no more important than any other in my view, it does make the movement harder to marginalize by its opposition.
His own reaction to the subjects varied widely from person to person, some of whom he agreed with and some of whom he did not. "That was not the point," he admits, "and I left my views out if it—both in sharing what I captured and in selecting whom to approach for the project. The overwhelming majority were incredibly sincere in their motives and dedication to the cause. I also wanted to include some police, but they were not willing. The police were a big presence there. The periphery was lined with them. There were also a ton of photographers there, though not one of the photographers or videographers was lighting their subjects, my team was unusual in that sense."
Accompanying each image was a short quote from each subject explaining their principal motivation for being there. "The personal statements certainly add a lot to the photos," Bradley says, "just as the photos do to the personal statements. Together they bring a greater depth and a better glimpse of the person. They are sometimes in contrast to each other—some of the more radical looks have some of the most thoughtful statements, while some of the more conservative faces have more aggressive and angry comments. Together they reveal the complexity of people more than either component individually."
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