“We are not homeless. We’re houseless, but we’re not homeless.” – One of the individuals photographed.
Kehrer Verlag presents Timothy Eastman‘s book, All The Past We Leave Behind. America’s New Nomads.
Taken during a two-year period between 2017 and 2019, American photographer Timothy Eastman photographed individuals, couples, and families living in an RV or van and traveling, and often working temporary or seasonal jobs. His images and accompanying narratives show how ‘home’ can be defined and redefined through choices, circumstances, and quality of life considerations.
Inspired by the 2017 nonfiction book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty First Century by Jessica Bruder, Eastman encountered an array of reasons for people living this way of life. Some cite reasons such as perspective shifts around quality of life and wanting more agency in their household expenditure and lifestyle choices. For others, financial or health stressors contributed to choosing to step away from more traditional housing or work.
The color photographs in the book are mostly portraits taken within the vehicles, but exterior shots, and landscapes are also included. Accompanying the images are interviews conducted by Eastman with some of the people who share about the experience, or the circumstances that led them to decide to live a mobile lifestyle.
“The workampers I photographed and interviewed had a wide variety of attitudes towards their situations,” Eastman reflects in his essay for the book. He continues, “Some painted themselves as rebels and adventurers, people who had bucked the system and found a way to live on their own terms. Some viewed their lifestyle as a pragmatic decision, a way of lessening day-to-day stresses and living expenses. Still others expressed that they had struggled with feelings of shame, wondering if they were experiencing something akin to homelessness.”
Workamping is also characterized by financial precariousness. Healthcare is unavailable or unreliable, and safety is a concern, especially for solo travelers. The next job is not guaranteed, and most are low paid. Amazon is the workamper’s largest employer, hiring for help in its warehouses during the busiest times of the year.
The people featured in this book speak honestly and movingly about what the experience is like, and the composition of the photographs utilize both facial expressions and gestures, and also the surrounding details within the interior and exterior spaces to unfold more of the stories of each person and life on the road. This allows the viewer to engage on a deeper level, as well, and glimpse a way of life not typically so visible.
Many of the workcampers spoke about the element of community found among each other. They will park for a short or long while at a trailer park or other transitory community location and meet people from all across the country and all walks of life. One person shared, “I like the whole idea and the lifestyle and the people that I’ve met along the way. I make friendships easy. And in traveling, I’ve met so many people around the country that I don’t feel like I’m alone.”
People note they are realistic about safety concerns and take measures to feel protected, but the kindness and generosity of others also stands out in their experience. Another traveler shared, “it’s been amazing. I’ve always wanted to travel and just kind of be nomadic. The most interesting [thing] I would say is the people that you meet along the way. You see the whole gamut of people on the road and you also just see the kindness of people that are out there. Everyone I’ve run across has been super helpful, super kind and welcoming and willing to help out. Especially being a solo female traveler.”
Tim Eastman is a photographer living in Brooklyn, NY. He attended School of Visual Arts in New York, NY where he received his master’s in photography. As an independent photojournalist Tim has covered protests in Egypt, Turkey, Ukraine, Brazil, and the United States. In 2017 he was a winner of LensCulture’s Emerging Photographers Award.
Timothy Eastman : All The Past We Leave Behind
America’s New Nomads
Writings by Timothy Eastman and some of those photographed.
Published by Kehrer Verlag
96 pages, 48 color photographs.
20 x 24 cm
Thursday, July 13, 7:00pm
Launch Photo Books at Foley Gallery
59 Orchard Street, New York, NY 10002