Portraits of People Lost in Invisible Device Screens


Photographer Eric Pickersgill has a photo project that has the Web abuzz this week. Titled “Removed,” it shows what smartphones and tablets have done to our daily lives and the “intimate” moments we share with friends and family. In each scene, the devices themselves have been taken out, resulting in strange photos that force us to reflect on our interactions with technology.

Using a large-format view camera, Pickersgill hunted for moments in which people are absorbed by their phones. After they agreed to pose for a portrait, he removed the devices from their hands before making a photo. Other images in the series are more staged, and are intended to show how technology has been creating walls between people.










Pickersgill says the idea for the project came to him when he noticed a family while sitting in a cafe. Here’s what he wrote down:

Family sitting next to me at Illium café in Troy, NY is so disconnected from one another. Not much talking. Father and two daughters have their own phones out. Mom doesn’t have one or chooses to leave it put away. She stares out the window, sad and alone in the company of her closest family. Dad looks up every so often to announce some obscure piece of info he found online. Twice he goes on about a large fish that was caught. No one replies. I am saddened by the use of technology for interaction in exchange for not interacting. This has never happened before and I doubt we have scratched the surface of the social impact of this new experience. Mom has her phone out now.

“The photographs represent reenactments of scenes that I experience daily,” writes Pickersgill. “We have learned to read the expression of the body while someone is consuming a device and when those signifiers are activated it is as if the device can be seen taking physical form without the object being present.”

You can find more photos from Removed on the project’s website and through its Instagram feed.

Image credits: Photographs by Eric Pickersgill and used with permission