Featured Image for ‘Removed’: A surreal photo series shows our deep addiction to our devices

‘Removed’: A surreal photo series shows our deep addiction to our devices

On your phone constantly? Or find that someone you know is virtually always ignoring you because they’re on their phone? It’s no secret we’re addicted, use our phones as a crux, and generally, can’t shake that FOMO feeling and need to know what’s out there.

Eric Pickersgill, a professional photographer in New York, isn’t the first to have noticed the trend.

An experience he had in a cafe while homesick for his wife created an image that he couldn’t forget – and inspired him to create ‘Removed‘, a short first person photoseries about an artist who sets out to understand the ways personal devices are changing society and relationships.

Here’s how Pickersgill describes the moment that set about him creating ‘Removed’.

The work began as I sat in a café one morning. This is what I wrote about my observation:

Family sitting next to me at Illium café in Troy, NY is so disconnected from one another. Father and two daughters have their own phones out. Mom doesn’t have one or chooses to leave it put away.

She stares out the window, sad and alone … Dad looks up every so often to announce some obscure piece of info he found online. Twice he goes on about a large fish that was caught. No one replies.

I am saddened by the use of technology for interaction in exchange for not interacting. This has never happened before and I doubt we have scratched the surface of the social impact of this new experience.

The image of that family, the mother’s face, the teenage girls’ and their father’s posture and focus on the palm of their own hands has been burned in my mind.

The photographer spoke to TechInsider about his project, and the images he captured.

Pickersgill set out to identify moments that spoke to him, and then approached people to seek their permission to take a photo of the scene as he found it, removing the phones or tablets in the seconds before the photo was taken.

A family watch their phones while on the BBQ

Most photos and scenes happened completely organically, such as the following image in a laundromat. “That’s exactly the scene I walked in on,” Pickersgill told TechInsider about the following image. “Other than removing the phones, I didn’t have to stage this at all.”

Removed, a photoseries by Eric Pickersgill

Pickersgill staged some photos for safety reasons – such as texting or reading Facebook while driving. This photo features his wife in the car you can see through the window, to create the imminent head-on collision.

Removed, a photo series by Eric Pickersgill

There’s no more striking photo than this one, taken of two newlyweds, Michelle and Jimmy.. Pickergrill told TechInsider that he hadn’t planned to shoot a ‘Removed’ photo that day, but drove past this scene and had to capture it for the series.

“I went and photographed the whole wedding. I decided not to do a “Removed” photo that day, but after I packed my camera up, I had this feeling it wasn’t time to leave. Not just yet. I got in my car to go, circled the block, and drove by this exact scene. I knew I had to capture that moment.

Removed, a photo series by Eric Pickersgill

Chris, below, was pulled over on this tractor to organise a meeting with his next clients:

Image from the Removed photoseries

More of the series follows.


An image from Removed, a series by Eric Pickersgill

An image from Removed, a series by Eric Pickersgill

An image from Removed, a series by Eric Pickersgill

An image from Removed, a series by Eric Pickersgill

An image from Removed, a series by Eric Pickersgill


There’s also a short film about this project, which details the project first-hand.

About the author

Tristan has a passion for tech, digital life, sport, and being told he looks better in person.

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