I recently discovered the work of Jesse Rieser, when an image he submitted for the Mother’s Day post caught my eye. I explored his website and not only discovered wonderful work, but that he was an Angeleno. Jesse was born in Missouri and now lives in California working as a editorial, commercial, and fine art photographer. In fact, Jesse is attending Review Santa Fe this weekend, presenting the body of work featured below. I have no doubt that we will be seeing more of his terrific work in the years to come.
Statement for The Class of 99 Turns 30: This year my high school classmates and I turned 30. As we entered adulthood we had reason to be optimistic and confident. Our formative years were cocooned in security, a youth spent in a time of economic growth and low unemployment.
This is what we were promised: “You are being bequeathed the tools for achieving a material existence that neither my generation or any that preceded it could have even remotely imagined as we began our life’s work.” – Allan Greenspan 1999 commencement speech.
Today, unemployment hovers at 9.6 percent. Housing foreclosures are at an all time high and personal bankruptcy filings are estimated to affect 1.7 million Americans. My generation is the first in a hundred years that is unlikely to be financially better off than it’s parents.
It’s in this moment of transition that I photographed my classmates in settings relevant to the lives they are building.
The images show a community last assembled at graduation during America’s most prosperous moment, regrouping in 2009 during the toughest economic and social circumstances since the Great Depression. The portraits examine what has been gained or lost in the interim.
Some are recovering from job losses, drug and alcohol addiction and loss of family. Others are building families, achieving in their early careers and volunteering in their communities. Like all generations, we struggle to define ourselves as parents, citizens, family members and spouses. We work to create meaningful lives; we work to understand what “meaningful” looks like.