Attempt at an Artist's Statement

I wrote the following to accompany a small gallery of street portraits and interviews.

I believe, as Freud and Nietzsche do, that our motives remain unknown to us. So I can't tell you why I do photography. But I can theorize.

Sometime in 2012, after losing my job and home and cars, after abandoning the religion of my parents and the accompanying shame, after ridding myself of an opiate addiction, after seeing what's on the other side of that smoke and mirrors called the American Dream—in short, after my worldview crumbled—I decided to photograph outliers and street life. There was no reasoning in my decision. It was obedience to an impulse.

Perhaps I took up photography because I hoped I would find meaning in creativity, because I'd found no such thing in "success" or "righteousness" or sin for that matter. Perhaps I returned to this teenage hobby—which I had abandoned in order to "grow up"—to pacify my angst, to flip off corporatism and consumerism, to run away from life. Or maybe I wanted to challenge narrow paradigms bred by Utah's homogenous culture.

I came to Provo, Utah, when I was 11, poor and rednecked, and for years I felt judged and excluded because I wasn't couth enough or righteous enough or wealthy enough. I was different, that was clear, so I was socially relegated. And though I've since come to appreciate Utah Valley and its culture, I still lament its spurious, rigid vibe.

So maybe my portraits are an effort to challenge our ideas of beauty and goodness. Like, maybe beauty has nothing to do with the straightness and whiteness of one's teeth. And maybe being a good person has little to do with following singsong dictums. Maybe I'm trying to get people to remove their masks by photographing souls who might have none. Maybe this is my attempt to exorcise my own bank of masks.

Regardless of my motives, I hope these portraits move you. Each person you see photographed here has been courageous enough to reveal him or herself in a very intimate way. And maybe that's the point: to see people beyond their clothes and faces and scars.

All told, despite what I'd like to say, these photos are in large part about relaying stories and honoring voice. I have entreated folks who, to me, seem straightforward and unpretentious, and they have opened their lives. I hope their disclosures spark a conversation, either with yourself or a stranger.