BY: SARAH ROBERTSON
Sao Paulo, Brazil is the ground of the world’s second biggest crack epidemic just behind the United States. With high levels of addiction, poverty and violence, the city has garnered the nickname also known as Cracolandia or Crackland.
Sebastian Palmer is a London-based photographer who has been living with and photographing sections of Brazilian society for years.
Palmer wanted to break the misconception of biased reporting and get an intimate look into his subjects’ lives, rather than one that relied on statistics. His photo series Ghosts gives viewers the chance to glimpse the faces of those in a constant state of hunger.
“Over the past 3 years I have been living with and photographing sections of Brazilian society that have been marginalized. I want a body of work that raises understanding of vulnerable sections of society in hope that measures can be taken to ensure that they live in dignity.
The latest chapter of my project focuses on crack cocaine addicts.
I felt that shooting a portrait series of close up, black and white head shots was the best way to humanize my sitters – by minimizing any distractions and allowing the viewer to come into direct face to face contact with them.
Although this subject matter has had a lot of exposure with Brazil hosting the World Cup, the situation has only worsened by further dividing an already-fractured society, reinforcing existing prejudices.
Reportage style images often taken from a distance with little to no interaction alienate the subject and insulate the viewer strengthening the “us” and “them” mentality.
My photos force the viewer to look directly into the subjects’ eyes. They force the viewer to recognize that addicts are human beings; that even the most stigmatized segments are part of the fabric of society to which we all belong.”