All Night, All Day (2015)
My #MICAphoto students and I went out to photograph the morning after the Baltimore Uprising, to document and bear witness to the tragic events.
While we were by North Ave & Pennsylvania Ave, we watched the police mass, from a few officers when we arrived, to 100+ over the span of an hour. This led to them sealing off the block, displacing all those that were trying to help peacefully. The police then proceeded to hold the block - 27 officers standing shoulder to shoulder in full riot gear - while continuing to stage behind their line.
I made several photographs of the complete line before deciding to make individual portraits of the officers as a record of those present and a measure of accountability. Most of the officers did not display badges or nameplates.
This culminated in Holding That Line, Part One and Holding That Line, Part Two. I continued to photograph with an emphasis on portraiture, seeking to represent this difficult moment in our city. Some of the sub-series include: Two Days Later, Enforcement, and State of Emergency.
Bmore Doc (2015 - )
Concerned about representing only that particular moment of crisis, I am currently building long-term relationships with community groups and continuing to document the complexities of my city.
I have worked extensively with Jubilee Arts, a non-profit that provides arts classes and other services to the residents of the Sandtown-Winchester, Upton, and surrounding neighborhoods that were at the epicenter of the recent unrest. In addition to candid portraits, I also set up a pop-up photobooth after dance performances and offered a Family Portrait Day at no cost to participants. I recently made portraits of the Youth in Business class for use on their website and in promoting their custom t-shirts.
As I photograph, the images download from my high-resolution camera to my linked phone, which is shared with the subjects as we discuss the nature of the representation. Folks frequently transmitted the photographs to their own devices and social platforms. 8x10 prints and edited JPG images are offered to the subjects afterwards as a gesture of appreciation.
This is an ongoing long-term engagement with the neighborhoods and communities that make up our city. If you wish to start a conversation about a possible collaboration with a community group, please email - nl (at) natelarson.com
On the East Baltimore Documentary Project (1976 - 1980)
In 1976, MICA professor Linda Rich joined with Joan Clark Netherwood and Elinor B. Cahn to form the East Baltimore Documentary Project. Over a four-year period, the team created over 10,000 photographs in in the 15 neighborhoods that comprise the eastern portion of the city. Read more about the history of the East Baltimore Documentary Project on the Maryland Historical Society blog. Their work is collected in the book "Neighborhood: A State of Mind".
In 2015, I adapted their name as an umbrella for my own project, honoring their legacy of documentary photography work in the community, while also mindful of who is and is not represented in their project. I carry their work forward today, as a MICA professor myself, seeking to build long-term community relationships to understand the communities that create Baltimore's rich identity today.