Jotham Oliver
Mike Botti
Jotham and daughter
Chris Striegel
William Powell Smith

A born and raised New Yorker, that came from a chaotic family life and household, I became very independent as a young child. Brought up in this type of environment, I found refuge in the community of hardcore music and photography. These two interests have been a guiding force in my life since a young age.

Hardcore music is defined as “a punk rock music ​genre and subculture that originated in the late 1970s (particularly in New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C, and Boston.)  Hardcore ​punk is generally faster, heavier, and more abrasive than regular punk rock.” This defines the technicalities, but it doesn’t characterize how it affects people’s lives, as it has affected mine. This counter culture provided me with a glimpse of an access to a world I had never even dreamed of, somewhere where I could be myself and be free.

Aaron Bedard, singer and songwriter of Massachusetts hardcore band, Bane,  says,  “I think that as we grow in this punk rock scene we need to let go of all of that fucking worry and just be the person who you want to be, love the bands who you want to love, dress the way you want to dress, and God fucking damnit- if you come to a hardcore show, come and dance with the band. Come and be apart of what’s going on, and fuck the haters. Fuck the people who are gonna go home and type and type and type, and talk about you like it matters. Ignore them. Their lives are so sad and so empty that they do not even understand what we are doing here inside in this room.” This is what hardcore is about, being whoever you want to be and not caring what anyone else thinks. Finding this community as a teenager not only helped me through many obstacles, but it is one of the reasons I am the person I am today. Through photography, I have found a way to document my experiences and the experiences of others by capturing images of people who are so absorbed within the music and lyrics, they let themselves completely go, releasing all inhibitions and knowing (believing) that they will not be judged for it.

One of my favorite artists who has influenced me is Dan Witz, a street artist and realist painter. In one of his series, Mosh Pits (Human and Otherwise) he paints large scale mosh pits at hardcore shows which inspired me to photograph similar crowds. His work allowed me to see that a visual presentation of the “scene” could be very effective.

I stand in the crowd, fully immersed, capturing the moments that are completely unpredictable and fleeting. The series of black and white photographs titled Life of my Own, taken from the New York hardcore band Cro Mags, song, is not only about the crowds reactions to the music, but is also about each person and their individuality. In addition to the crowd studies, I also take the opportunity to get to know people first, then photograph their portrait, if they are agreeable. As a documentary photographer, it is important for me to take the time to become familiar with the person I am photographing. I feel that when they are comfortable with me, and they are comfortable with the camera, it allows their personality to reveal itself. I didn’t do this project alone, we all created this series together. Cheers.