The game of distraction. All photographers and creatives are familiar with how to play. Spend five minutes doing work, then stop to write an email. You mindlessly land on Facebook where you spend too much time scrolling through non-sense, and eventually click on a YouTube link. The next 11 seconds of your life are spent watching a tiny kitten attacking a large potato. (It’s real, watch it.) By that point, your mind has drifted to the thought of eating chips, and you leave your desk to gobble up a bag, failing to return for an erratic amount of time.
New York-based commercial and editorial photographer Jonathan Hanson realized social media was getting in the way of his productivity and day-to-day life (maybe without the cat videos). So he set out to detach himself, starting by simply keeping his account logged out while he was doing work. He then took a bigger step to eliminating the isolated emotions by immersing himself on the streets of Baltimore, determined to make personal connections with the people who crossed his path. On his own blog, he expressed his mission:
My goal with the project is to capture slight body language, revealing something deeper in each of the characters I have photographed. The city streets provide me with an opportunity to come across a wide range of people. There is a limitless supply of backgrounds and synchronized moments where color, light, and people come together to create a portrait of a the city though the humans that inhabit it.
By using a Hasselblad, Jonathan approached some individuals who had never seen a medium format camera as opposed to the common digital devices they’re used to. This allowed them to let their guard down and better understand his artistic intentions. And of course, this format gave Jonathan more incentive to compose and think about the shots that he wanted.
What began as a personal exercise, turned into a series of beautiful portraits full of character and charisma. Jonathan says he met a man in his early 70’s named Willie who he’s hung out with a few times since approaching him to take his picture. He says that from the experience he learned that “the very act of raising the camera to take a picture puts the photographer into a position to make something great.”