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Category: People

Michael Joseph: Lost and Found

Artist’s Statement:

“We have secrets about traveling you wouldn’t believe and we share with no one but ourselves.” – Huck

These portraits are from a series entitled “Lost and Found.” The series portrays the individual souls of youth who abandon home to travel around the country by hitchhiking and freight train hopping. Within their personal journey driven by wanderlust, escapism, or a search for transient jobs, they find a new family in their traveling friends. They are photographed on public streets using natural light, in the space in which they are found. In some cases they have been photographed in different cities, at different periods of time and sometimes years apart.

Their appearances are the result of their experiences. Like graffiti on the walls of the city streets they inhabit and the trains they ride, their bodies and faces become the visual storybook of their lives. Tattoos are often given to one another by “stick and poke” – a method of using a pin or needle with India ink to inscribe a memory from their travels. Their clothing is often a mismatch of found items. Jackets, pants and vests are self-made like a patchwork quilt, using fabric pieces of a fellow traveler’s clothing embellished by metal bottle caps, buttons, safety pins, lighter parts, syringe caps, and patches. The high of freedom however, does not come without consequence. Their lifestyle is physically risky and rampant with substance abuse.

Each traveler’s story is different, but they are bound by a sense of community. Often unseen and mistaken by their appearances, they are some of the kindest people one might meet. Their souls are open and their gift is time. As one states “They will give you their time because time is all they have.” And in some cases, in the family they have lost, they have found each other.

Artist’s Bio:

Michael Joseph is a street and street portrait photographer. Influenced by being raised just outside of New York City, his inspirations are drawn from the interactions and observations of people in city streets. He enjoys meeting people who are most unlike him and aims to afford his audience the same experience through his photographs. His portraits are often taken in real time and up close, to allow the viewer to explore the immediate and unseen.

His project “Lost and Found” has been featured online at, the Social Documentary Network and BOAAT Press. Michael’s portraits have been exhibited nationally most notably at the Aperture Gallery in New York City, the Light Factory in Charlotte, NC, and the Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, CO. He has received a fellowship in photography from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and has been a finalist for Photolucida’s Critical Mass and LensCulture’s Portrait Awards. He has lectured for Amy Arbus at the International Center of Photography and his portraits are held in the permanent collection at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art in Indiana.