A photographer has shown just how powerful a hold on us technology has.
Eric Pickersgill, 29, snapped photo series 'Removed' after spotting a family eating breakfast together in a cafe while he was staying at an artist residency in New York. He noticed that the entire family, except for the mother, was on a phone - connecting with people and content elsewhere - rather than those they were sat with.
"It was the beautiful light and the mother who wasn’t using a device that made me see the situation as a photograph," he explains. "I didn’t make that picture but it exists in my mind as a very emotionally-charged image."
'Removed' highlights just how addicted to tech we all are. Pickersgill tells HuffPost UK Lifestyle that he was "startled into noticing how often phones are used in everyday life".
"I knew that I didn’t want to make photographs of people just using the devices," explains Pickersgill. "That seemed too exploitative, to just walk around and point the camera at people without their participation."
The idea for the project came from his own tech-addicted experience.
"One night after getting back from the residency I slipped back into my old ways of using my device while in bed with my wife, despite having that moment of realisation when I was in New York," he explains.
"As my eyes began to slowly close while checking my emails, I awoke to the sound of my phone hitting the floor. Before I thought to bend over the edge to pick it up, I looked at my partially curled open palm resting on the edge of the bed that still held the shape of my dropped device.
"I realised that that was how I would be able to make the photographs for 'Removed'."
Pickersgill believes it's the absence of the device itself that is more poignant and hopes his work will offer people a "moment of realisation" and make people more aware of how long they spend on their devices.
"I, personally, need the reminder to put my device down because it is an addiction," he explains. "The affirmation of others that we get with these things feels good and we go back for it more and more."
He adds that his work, which has been shared online and displayed in galleries, has warranted a variety of responses. One of the photographs shows a woman who looks like she's about to have a head-on collision because she's looking at her device. He says this seems to have the strongest response.
There are also those who have called the photographer a "hypocrite" for displaying the photographs online, which have to be accessed using a device. But it's not something that bothers Pickersgill.
"My reaction to that is one of satisfaction," he says. "These photographs are existing in people's lives as a way to make them pay attention to this social shift.
"I’m not attempting to tell others what to do with their time, I’m just hopefully offering up a moment of realisation much like the one that I experienced in the cafe at the onset of the project."
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