Take a look around you. Whether you're on the subway, walking down the street, or sitting at a bar, you'll notice a common thread: Everyone is on their phones. Heads down, we're ignoring what's happening in front of us, and the people we're actually with. Artist and photographer Eric Pickersgill decided to create a photo series to illustrate what we really look like doing this, and the results are powerful.
Pickersgill first got the idea for this project, "Removed," two summers ago while at an artists' residency in upstate New York. At a coffee shop one morning, a family of four sat down to eat breakfast at the table next to him.
"There were two girls and their dad, and they were all on their personal devices and not talking to each other. The mom didn’t have her phone out and was sitting there looking out the window, looking so isolated but within arms' reach of the most important people in her life," Pickersgill told us. "It was a very striking moment."
After that experience, he resigned himself to be more present, but three nights after getting back home, he fell asleep with his phone in his hand and was jolted awake by the sound of his phone slipping out of his dozing grasp and hitting the floor.
"I looked at my empty palm and it was still in the shape as if I was holding this device," Pickersgill said. He now knew how he wanted to capture what he'd felt while observing the family at that cafe: photographs of people who look as if they're gazing at their devices, but with an empty hand instead.
This article originally published October 15, 2015.