I began working on “Inside Out” as an excuse to escape. Battling the deep depression and seductive mania of my bipolar disorder, I would drive as far as I could from home before tiring, much of the time with no thought of returning. Sometimes I might stay on the road for a couple of days—sometimes a few weeks. At other times I could travel hundreds of miles only to return right back home that same day. Emotional exhaustion, whether healthy or not, was an essential ingredient in the making of many of these photographs.

The trips are a form of therapy where my own state of vulnerability and desire to be accepted allow me to sympathize with and photograph the people I meet with honesty, empathy and an intimacy not typically awarded to strangers.

When photographing strangers, there is inherently a shared suspicion on both sides of the camera. As a photographer I am soliciting my subjects’ vulnerability, and in return I must openly cede my own. As a result I am allowed into people’s homes, to share their dinner and rest a night on a spare bed.

However, the photographs present a dichotomy. Although they may be created with honest intention, they are not factual, nor are they intended to be. They ride a line between fantasy and reality, never quite falling to either side of that line. The end result is a story of a place and people that do not truly exist outside of these photographs.

—Harris Mizrahi

Editor’s Note: Mizrahi’s project was recognized by the jury of the LensCulture Portrait Awards 2017—don’t miss the work from all 44 of the outstanding, international talents! You can follow Mizrahi’s work on his Instagram account and personal website.