WPN: It has been written that your art “exudes humanism and approachability.” What is your reaction to this comment?
PM: I am flattered, of course. My goal is not to record big news events but to show people doing everyday things. So, when viewers can relate to these fellow humans, that is wonderful and quite satisfying to me.
WPN: Please talk to us about your “Faces Project.” Is this an on-going piece of work or is there to be a “Faces Project, part 2?” During this mission you state that you asked individuals not to smile. That must have been difficult for the subjects, as some do look like they are slightly smiling. Would you say that is just part of the “human encounters on the street?”
PM: Like most photographers that I know, it is intimidating at first to directly approach a stranger on the street and ask permission to make a portrait of them. There is a risk factor for both individuals. So, gaining trust in a very short time span is the key. I just approach people and say, “Excuse me, I'm working on a photo project of close-up images of people’s faces. Can I take your picture?" If they have further doubts, I hand them my business card and let them know this project will be posted on my website. So far, I have only done this in Milwaukee and Chicago, but the acceptance rate is about 85%, which pleasantly surprised me. Asking people to not smile is important because I'm not looking for typical snapshot poses. I am more concerned with the actual face, especially the eyes. As a result, in this series, we get to examine people in a way we can't do in person. We allow ourselves to stare at their features, study their face and maybe think more deeply about who we are as individuals and collectively as humans.