Paul Matzner: Facing You/Facing Me
In an era where we walk the streets, head down, partially glued to our cell phones and partially navigating the pot holes and cracked pavement, we are no longer a society of direct communicators. We have lost our ability to connect with a glance, a nod, or a gesture that lets someone know they have been acknowledged. Photographer Paul Matzner is taking a hard look at who he meets on the street, and he’s asking those he encounters to look back. This simple gesture of communicating for a brief second has power and poignancy in its practice.
Paul has been a lifelong resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin while taking many trips to New Zealand, Fiji, Ecuador, Europe, and 47 of the United States. Seeing an exhibit called Minimata by W. Eugene Smith in 1972 sparked his interest in photography that began with film and darkroom processing/printing. A job as a photographer for the City of Milwaukee, and then selling sheetfed printing in the early 1980’s led to a 23 year administrative career overseeing the production of magazines and catalogs for national clients at Quad/Graphics.
Since going digital in 2008 and retiring from his full-time day job at Quad/Graphics, Matzner has followed his passion by making noteworthy images on the streets of New York City, Chicago, and Milwaukee. He has been in numerous juried group exhibitions at PhotoPlace Gallery, Darkroom Gallery, Walker’s Point Center for the Arts, Wustum Museum of Fine Arts, and Minneapolis Photo Center. He has received recognition online at National Geographic’s Shot of the Day, Filter Photo Festival’s blog Image 37, JPG Magazine’s Story of the Week, and an interview with World Photography Network. His stock images have been licensed by such publications as Time-Life Books, Huffington Post, Travel & Leisure, American Way, The Guardian, NY Daily News, and AOL online. His most recent project is called Facing You/Facing Me, a portrait series photographed on the street of individuals he has stopped to take close-ups of their faces.
Facing You/Facing Me
We pass people on the street every day without making eye contact or even acknowledging their presence. We are connected to our music, our phones, our technology, but not necessarily to the people around us. I have chosen to share a momentary, public intimacy with those passersby so that I can gaze longer at their faces and value their humanity. We need each other in this world. Awareness of the people around me is the first step toward an appreciation of who I am and who they are, whether those relationships remain anonymous or become more revealing over time.
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