Structures in a failed and abandoned housing development in Merced, California, United States

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People's Choice Award: Foreclosed Dreams

David Wells | United States

“Foreclosed Dreams” is a photo-essay exploring the empty homes and foreclosed dreams littering the American landscape in the wake of the foreclosure crisis across the United States

Owning a home was once the American dream. Now that dream, like those homes, is being foreclosed on. More than 1 in 10 American homeowners are either behind in mortgage payments or in foreclosure – twice the number from a year ago. The empty homes and foreclosed dreams are powerful symbols of lives shattered, families devastated and communities destroyed.

After the foreclosure and before the houses are cleaned up and returned to the market, there is a fleeting moment when the ghosts of the one-time owners are all that are left. The remaining signs of life that I photograph during this period of time echo the voices and footsteps that once filled these newly emptied houses. Marks on the wall, property left behind, etc., all remind us of what, and who, used to be there.

I am a freelance photographer affiliated with Aurora Photos. Concentrating on the history of photography in my undergraduate studies gave me a different perspective on media imagery.

I worked for a number of large (and small) newspapers including Los Angeles Times and Newsday and the San Francisco Examiner. Though I was getting extensive on-the-job-training at some of America’s best newspapers, I never found a place to do the kind of in-depth and long-term projects that motivated me.

Since 1986 I have been working freelance, focusing on in depth photo-essays for publication and exhibitions. I have explored the complex relationship between Israelis and Palestinians, the lives of the last shell-fishermen in Rhode Island and the growing presence of South Asians in American life, to name a few. I was honored with the NPPA/Nikon Documentary Sabbatical Grant, which enabled me to spend almost two years researching and photographing the pesticide poisoning of farm workers in California. Over the last decade, I have been photographing the winners and losers in the globalization of India through multiple trips to South Asia, funded by two Fulbright fellowships and an Alicia Patterson fellowship.

My work has been published across the globe and featured in one-person exhibits at Brown University, the University of California at Berkeley and Harvard University among others. The work has also been part of group exhibitions at the Houston FotoFest and the Visa pour l'Image Photojournalism Festival in Perpignan, France.

Each of the issues I explore is often seen through stereotypes and regularly the subject of superficial reporting. Only by researching and spending more time with a topic, can I assemble a photo-essay that gets to the core of issue.

David H. Wells

401 521 4602

401 261 4528

Narrative Photography
Don't forget the "H"

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