Jon Conklin | From the Margins
On View August 5th - October 1st, 2011
I perpetually see the world photographically and ask: What is it that makes one person more interesting than another? What is significant about this situation that makes it worth recording? What is unique about this place at this time? What makes one moment more interesting than the next, or the next, or the next?
Where others might see differences, I see commonalities. Where others might be repulsed, my curiosity and sensitivity draw me close. Where others might find ugliness, I see the beauty of the human spirit.
I have always been moved by photographs which tell us something about the human condition; photographs which describe how we live, how we behave, who we are as a society, and what it means to be human in this world, resonate deep within me. Within such photographs there is a timeless beauty which emanates from the subjects, allowing us to glean something of their essence, their singularity, their soul.
The subjects of my photographs often come from the margins of mainstream, middle-class American society. They are on the edge in terms of age, race, occupation, and socio-economic condition. I find these people to be less guarded, without pretext, agenda, or pretension and so more genuine: more genuinely and characteristically themselves. Their lives are written on their faces, their dignity in their eyes, and their circumstance in their dress.
I try to approach my subjects with reverence, empathy, and compassion. There is a great deal of trust involved when making a direct portrait. The subject and I enter an accord whereby they agree to naturally and honestly present themselves to the camera and I agree to treat them with dignity and respect. With candid images, I attempt to show people as they are within the context of a situation without editorial embellishment. I am searching for the 'spirit' of what it is to be human within the reality of our world. In this way, I hope to give some small voice to the people who, because they are on society's fringe, are often overlooked and have little influence over their conditions.