Astronomy, camping and caravanning, children’s chess, tattoos: A new book of carefully staged group portraits captures communities of interest in their natural habitats, turning an appreciative spotlight on passions often hidden to outsiders.
By using staged sets and carefully chosen props, photographers Ursula Sprecher and Andi Cortellini invite the viewer to smile at the eccentricities of each group and admire the individuals who participated in the shoots by situating them alongside friends and peers. In our age of "Bowling Alone" hand-wringing over eroding social fabrics, the photographs are a welcome reminder that pockets of communities with shared interests continue to thrive.
"We always felt like guests in their passion, and they were guests in our work," Sprecher told Slate. "Some people do something and spend time on their interest for many years. It’s very serious to work on something for that long."
The portraits were all shot in Switzerland, but by design comprise a wide range of ages, ethnicities, and religions. "It's not important where we took the photographs," Sprecher said. "Other places in the world would be similar. Others would be very different." Indeed, the groups are presented as autonomous tribes, separate from any specific geographic or political affiliation.
HobbyBuddies is now available in Europe, and will be released in the U.S. this November.