©Amy Becker, Phoneprints
Dead Ringers: Portraits of abandoned payphones
I am a New Jersey-based photographer trained in several traditional formats as well as digital photography. My interests typically explore visual stories that arise from the random interaction and juxtapositions of everyday found objects, people, and moments within those environments.
For this ongoing project—Dead Ringers: Portraits of abandoned payphones—I set aside my usual 35mm camera. Instead, I use my iPhone camera, the very invention that has rendered payphones into unwanted relics. Then I print the images in the same ratio as the iPhone capture.
©Amy Becker, Newark Library
©Amy Becker, Churros Man
While the necessity for payphones has largely vanished, they remain standing—scattered throughout the landscape—abandoned, beaten, and disfigured. I often find them hidden in plain sight. Others, stripped down to a shell of their former selves, reveal a vague suggestion of sculpture in metal and metal and plastic. At times, the phones’ anthropomorphic shapes echo portraits where comic and tragic personalities coexist. Admittedly, when I do find a rare working phone, I’m disappointed.
©Amy Becker, Pagodas
Still, for many, payphones are linked to collective memories. Think of Clark Kent rushing to the nearest phone booth, emerging as mythic Superman, ready to save Lois Lane. Or college students cramming themselves into phone booths.
Payphones represent one path to human connection. Dead Ringers depicts the vestiges of those machines and the environments in which they exist. What endures is the need to communicate, anyplace, for any reason, or for no reason at all.
©Amy Becker, Chief Marindale
©Amy Becker, Mohawk Trail