We drive each other apart when we don't honor the complexity inherent to our beliefs, and it's easy to dismiss someone as 'the other' or even 'the enemy' before doing the work of understanding them. I believe that recognizing the dignity in others, particularly those we disagree with, requires us to look each other in the eye and listen.
I shot Primary Colors while covering the 2016 presidential campaign with the goal of creating my own connections with the individuals I photographed, and worked with polaroid film in a large format camera, a deliberate process that forces consideration. Avoiding the campaign signs, buttons or t-shirts—symbols that allow us to gauge whether a stranger is with us or against us—short-circuits the ingrained urge to reach a snap judgment about whether someone is an ally or enemy.
Being open to the possibility of connection demands that we remain vulnerable and willing to share, an uncomfortable position that creates friction against our animal nature. While connection can be as simple as talking, it's no small task when the mood of the country is dark and the level of discourse seems barely able to transcend the playground. In hopes of encouraging Americans to engage in the effort of conversation, I present these portraits alongside statements from each individual that are excerpted from our chats. It may be trite to acknowledge that we have more in common than not, but the idea seems to garner more ink than action. Through this project I hope to push more Americans to action.