What Is A City But Its People: Photos Of Erica McDonald

by Peter Nisch SOURCE The Sip
Photo Credit: All photos Erica McDonald

“I believe in the importance of lineage and the narrative in photography,” says Erica McDonald and I agree with her. Telling a story in (portrait) photography is more important than any other thing. Following in the footsteps of William Shakespeare with Erica McDonald.

Take for example the portraits of the Surf Manor Adult Home an adult home in Coney Island called Surf Manor, where McDonald had been visiting and taking photos; its residents live in small bedrooms, two to a room. It’s one of many 200 bed-plus institutions peppered throughout New York City that are home to persons, many who have been diagnosed with mental illness, who have no where else to go.

You can literally feel the circumstances in which they live in their faces. These cramped rooms are nearly identical, but the people who live in them are highly individual. Most of the residents suffer from cardiopulmonary conditions or take psychotropic medications. As their bodies are less able to regulate and withstand high temperatures, these residents are highly susceptible to heat related illnesses. Erica McDonald has many beautiful fine art documentaries on her website. You should definitely visit her New York City section.

Besides serving as a contributing editor to the book Connections Across A Human Planet, a collection of photo documentary stories from around the world, she has also had reviewed portfolios for the PDN PhotoExpo / Palm Springs Photo Festival. In 2011, McDonald also joined the Advisory Committee for Rehabilitation Through Photography and the Editorial Committee at Photojournale.

McDonald has invested herself in the dark light of this nothing – a multiplatform project of portraits, interviews and documentary street photography that focuses on the remaining working class in a changing Brooklyn neighborhood.

McDonald is currently working on a project called DEVELOP Photo to provide resources for the enrichment of the photojournalism, fine art and documentary photography community. The website for DEVELOP Photo will launch soon. In the meantime you can visit the DEVELOP Tube (YouTube) or the DEVELOP Tube (Vimeo) channel, which is a facet of DEVELOP Photo. DEVELOP Tube is an educational resource which features interviews, profiles, lectures and films about photojournalism, fine art and documentary photography. I’ll admit I’m a great admirer of her photography and hopefully one day I can toast a toast with Erica McDonald and talk in detail about portrait photography and its development.