Kaitlin listening to Miley Cyrus. Whiteladies Rd, Bristol, 2011.

White Wires

I spotted Kaitlin walking along Whiteladies Road, a busy main road in Bristol. I asked to take her picture there and then. I took four frames, spending only about 3 minutes with her.

I have been photographing people plugged into their iPods/iPhones for over a year now. These thin white wires that travel from our digital accessories almost directly to our brains hold a fascination for me, as one of the images of ourselves that will define the present time. Like the Sony Walkman in the eighties and the brick shaped mobile phones of the early nineties those white wires stand out to me. This moment seems to be passing already. I have seen red, orange and blue wires now…

My photography is about recognising and recording these subtle indicators that say something of how we live, dress and present ourselves. The ‘White Wires’ series intrigues me further as being ‘plugged in’ is also tuning out from the world around you. I love being able to capture people immersed in their own world and get a glimpse of what that private world is.

Kaitlin is my most recent subject in this series and for me was one of those occasions when all the elements in a photograph (the light, background, composition, expression, timing and the absence of any other people on such a busy road) seem to collide and something else happens, something greater than the sum of those individual elements. It is that feature of photography that is so hard to define. It doesn’t happen with every person I photograph, in fact I have to take a lot of shots before I get one of these.

Does the iPod make us antisocial?

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