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Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

Men Like Me

I like Bill Jay's work and have written about him before. I like his writing, I like listening to him, and I like his photographs. Combine his images together with his writing and you have a book you can sit down with and really enjoy. I am referring to his most recent book entitled "Men Like Me", which I recently purchased from Photo-Eye.

In his adopted beach town, Jay finds a kinship with a relatively unlikely group of people; those that are homeless and down on their luck. The treatment of his subjects is unique in that it is not his goal to make any type of statement about homelessness, rather, he wishes to depict who these people are on a personal level because he senses that he is very much like them. His portraits and anecdotes depict a deep respect for people that truly became his friends and seemingly came to understand him as much as he grew to know them. As he says in his introduction,

"Perhaps it is necessary to state that this is not a documentary project in the sense of 'concerned photography'. I know next to nothing about the homeless; I have not conducted any research or gathered any statistics; I do not interview the men about the reasons for their circumstances; I have no idea whether or not the men I encountered were typical. This is a personal not a political project. I am not advocating anything, nor shedding light on a social ill nor making any social statement. For me, this project had a more important purpose and result: the discovery that these really were men like me.

The book is a relatively short read. But during that timespan you will both want to laugh as well as cry.

These days, many portraits are heavily retouched to give skin and facial features a perfect, sometimes ghostly look. Not so in these portraits. They are sharp, even to the point of exaggerating the human flaws in skin and hair. These are real people.

At the end of the introduction Jay states, "I want them to believe that the images were taken with respect and often with affection. I hope it shows."

Indeed, it does.