Andrea Reese: Homelessness in NYC

In the NYT’s Lens blog, there’s a great interview with Andrea Star Reese, 58, a recent graduate of ICP’s Documentary Photography program. They’ve called her essay on the Lens blog “Finding Community in the Shadows.” On Reese’s own site, the work is called “The Urban Cave.”

The buzz about the images carried over to the NYT’s City Room blog, too- check out  here. It’s so well-deserved; Reese’s images are overflowing with the kind of grace acquired only through spending days upon days immersed in the story.

Since her work sparked my interest, I shot her an email and did a quick interview with her:

What other projects have you worked on before this one?

Before I began The Urban Cave, I was working with video and film. Just prior to starting a year long photojournalism course at ICP I was filming a series  of small stories in the year before and the years follow the first direct democratic presidential election in Indonesia. In addition to covering the election I spent a great amount of time on the streets and in various illegal settlements and everyday neighborhoods among those living in poverty and and those at risk. Among them were street children, a community working on a garbage dump, some traditional fishermen who were being evicted and refugees from the conflict in Aceh. I also followed religious leaders such as the nobel nominated Sister Briggetta and the charismatic AA Gym as well as the prominent political figures. I miss Indonesia very much.

What was the most challenging part?

The most challenging part was attempting to capture compelling images while still learning the technical basics of shooting still photography.

Lucky for me I had the support of my teachers at ICP and The Eddy Adams workshop during the first year and even up to now. Other then that of course it was gaining trust, and then more trust to work at a deeper level.

What’s next for you, & what are your goals in photography?

Next will be finding the next story whatever that will be.  My goal is the same as most emerging photographers I know, to achieve excellence which is an illusive and difficult undertaking. If I work very hard maybe that will be possible.

I was curious about your differentiations between white collar photographers & blue collar photographers mentioned in the Lens blog-could you explain?

White collar photographers are those incredible shooters able to capture compelling images in most of their shots. They are the true naturals. Blue collar shooters like me take a lot of images in order to find a few that are good. We need more time. The good side of that is that we are around when things happen because we are there a lot and for longer. I am hoping to move from blue to white.

How has it been for you to working in today’s media landscape since finishing at ICP?

There is not a lot of work out there for any photographers, much less emerging photographers. I have found a lot of great opportunity  by entering competitions, and by working on a long personal project that may not be  easy to get published, but is an important story non the less.

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