PDN Photo of the Day

7 Days of Garbage

Gregg Segal‘s “7 Days of Garbage,” a series of images that depict people laying amid a week’s worth of their own trash, won a spot on Photoville’s The FENCE outdoor photography exhibition. Segal’s work will appear at Photoville’s newest FENCE location, The Atlanta BeltLine in Georgia, which will be unveiled in mid-July and remain up through October 2014.

Segal the first image in this series in January 2014. The image featured his studio assistant, Dana, “floating” in a pool surrounded by her garbage. Since then he has made 20 images, finding new subjects through word of mouth. Segal also made made an image of himself with his family. “I’m not pointing a finger at others but acknowledging that we’re all in this together,” Segal told PDN via email. Segal photographed each image in his yard, bringing in props to create different environments. “We made a bed of moss, leaves, twigs, pine cones, etc., and for the beach setting I brought in about 1,000 pounds of sand.” For the water photos, Segal and his crew built scaffolding so the camera could be centered over the subjects. “For the other settings, I made the rig a little less cumbersome; the camera is affixed (very securely!) to a speedrail, which allowed me to shoot centered directly over the subject, which is key.” Segal works with a small crew—an assistant or two and a digital tech—who help arrange the garbage around the subject(s).

Segal incorporated his signature sense of humor and wit into these portraits of everyday people surrounded by their week’s worth of trash, but he also wanted to draw attention to the issue. The idea came from “marveling at the vast quantities of garbage neighbors drag to the curb every week in their giant receptacles,” he says. “There are about 100 million households in the U.S. The math becomes staggering.”

Segal also intentionally included the subject’s recycling along with the other trash. “Much of what is designated recyclable is not recycled—the ocean is filled with plastic (Pacific Garbage Patch, for instance),” he says. “The cost of recycling plastic negates its value. New York City, for instance, did away with recycling plastic because it just didn’t make sense economically or environmentally—a great deal of energy is used to repurpose plastic; and I want to underscore just how much unnecessary packaging we all use.”

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