Could I just get a small vanilla latte?

Paper is fine.

Yeah, just get rid of the split ends this time.

No ice, please.

And the back tire on the driver’s side.

Right, the sole is just separating at the heel a little.

Dressing on the side would be great.

Oh, and extra pickles too.


Of course!

No problem.

Right away.

How do you want that cooked?

And will that be all?

Have a great day.


A burger and shoes. Coffee and an oil change. Fresh veggies and a monthly trim.

The basics.

They’re routine. We couldn’t live without them, really.

They’re so routine, in fact, that we never stop to really think about the lives devoted to making them available to us. In an exchange of minimal syllables, we might see a hand reaching out the drive-thru window or an apron and hat restocking shelves at the end of the aisle, but we glance away to check an email and rush off to the next appointment, already five minutes late.

Have you ever stopped to entertain the possibility that the kid who overcooked your burger is living a life as complex and problematic and infinitely-dimensional as your own?

The girl who rang up your groceries wondered whether you were going to use the blueberries you bought in a recipe or eat them fresh. Her aunt used to make the best blueberry pancakes.  

The guy who replaced your tire was listening to a classic rock station while he did it, remembering how it felt to see Aerosmith in concert and thinking about the girl who he was so in love with then.

We’ve become adept at separating the products and services we consume from the human worker that produced them. For this project, I hoped to bridge that gap. I entered stores and restaurants and workshops and salons, taking pictures of people that worked there and the things they worked on. I spent hours and days and weeks doing this. Photographing. Talking. Asking questions.

And for all of time I spent, I documented only the tiniest fraction of the faces that fade into the background of lives like mine. For every sandwich I order, every pair of jeans I buy, every leather strap I need mended, I could make five more portraits. I’ll never really be able to know all the people whose lives are centered around the things that make mine a little more comfortable. But I can at least start to notice them.




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