Archives for posts with tag: sociological

Not speaking to strangers is a lesson learned early and practiced often, but this fascinating ongoing photography series flies in the face of such prudence. Mumbai-based photographer Jay Weinstein attempts to break down barriers during this particularly vigilant time in world history, one smile at a time. Aptly titled “…so I asked them to smile”, this minimalist photography project explores the smiles of strangers, and how facial expressions truly transform perceptions and soften even the most hardened of appearances. Weinstein captures strangers in two different poses: one without a smile and one while smiling. See for yourself… with no other context (Weinstein does not provide life stories, names, occupations, confirmed religions or ethnicity), it’s striking to see how a simple smile can humanize a perfect stranger. Weinstein describes the genesis of this compelling sociological experiment in his own words: “December 2013. I was on a photography trip to Bikaner, in the deserts of Rajasthan, India. Near the busy train station, I saw a man I wanted to photograph. I hesitated. The look in his eye and his stony, stern face intimidated me. It’s always that moment of hesitation that kills a shot! I ended up avoiding him and photographing other subjects until I heard his jovial voice, “Take my picture too!” Camera lens focused, my finger poised to fire. ‘Smile’, I called out. And he was transformed. His face radiated warmth, his eyes sparkled with a humor I had completely missed. Even his posture softened. I knew then what my next project would be. So I asked them to smile was born. I wanted to document the effect of the human smile on a strangers face.”

Via soiaskedthemtosmile.com

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Voyeurism is a term we use loosely here, more referring to human curiosity than anything perverse in nature. But it seems to be the best way to describe the work of Dutch documentary photographer Reinier Gerritsen in his series The Last Book. Over the course of three years, Gerritsen trolled the New York City subway system, observing and documenting the printed matter commuters were reading. With the decline of physical books in favor of digital media, his original intention was to chronicle the waning days of traditional publishing: “Conceived as an elegy to the end of bound books, in a positive twist it has now become evident that people are moving away from electronic reading devices and that the printed book is alive and well!” With the rigor of a sociological experiment, Gerritsen catalogued hundreds of photos on his website by author’s last name. “It began as a series of modest observations and transformed into a collection of vivid documentary portraits, set against a visual landscape of best sellers, classics, romance novels, detective thrillers and every kind of printed book, as diverse as the readers.” Gerritsen took note of patterns, observing that Suzanne Collins, James Patterson and J.K. Rowling were among the most popular authors of choice. This project was eventually published into a beautiful bound book itself (available here), and Gerritsen even headed back underground to photograph commuters with their e-readers for his own digital publication, an app called The Last Book Revisited (available here).

Via reiniergerritsen.nl and saulgallery.com

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