When I moved from Boston to Ireland in the year 2000, I remember taking a taxi from Shannon airport, I wasn’t five minutes on route to my destination and I spotted a row of caravans and white vans on the roadside with scantly clothed children running around large black and white ponies, clothes billowing in the wind suspended on a makeshift clothes line, more than likely hand washed as there was no apparent running water where they camped along the main road, mothers and daughters doing their morning chores, young adolescence males burning rubbish on the bonfire, so much activities, chaos and their lifestyle have imbedded in my mind ever since. I was intrigued, to my utmost curiosity, I began to study the travellers and try to build up some form of trust, once I gained this, I decided to document them in 2010.
As a fine-art black and white documentary photographer who studied the medium at the Art Institute of Boston in 1990, two decades of skills behind me gave me the confidence to photograph an ethnic group, the Irish Travellers. Freckled-faced children, young women with long hair and bright make-up with large jewellery, scantily dressed, proudly displaying cleavage, men proudly portraying scars and tattoos, sometimes smeared with grease and dirt, bonfire, litter, metal scraps, horses, caravans, horse trailers and vans became important elements in my photographs. Most importantly, their weather-beaten and sometime scarred faces provide hard evidence in their portraits and yet each person shows their hardship, history and uncertainty about their future in their eyes.
Using a medium format camera that takes square images as I have done since 1990, I am able to make large prints with definitive details as I feel it’s important to document every detail with as much precision as possible. Also, as with all my portraits in different themes in the past, I avoid cropping my images so I include the original film’s rebate in order to show honest imagery and to frame the composition. It allows the viewers to see what I see exactly through the viewfinder of my camera when I press the shutter.
To date, the Irish Travellers has become the most interesting and largest theme I have ever produced in my 3 decades as a photographic artist. In my works with the Travelling Community I have been following several clans; my goal is to continue to document these families as well as other members that I encounter on my journey.