Bronx Boys

The Bronx has a terrible beauty— stark and harsh—like the desert. At first glance you imagine nothing can survive. Then you notice life going on all around. People adapt, survive, and even prosper in this urban moonscape of quick pleasures and false hopes.

In the 1700s Thomas Hobbes described life in a state of nature as “continual fear and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Life is still that way in The Bronx.

These are pictures of friends I met as children who became my family, as well as people who stepped in front of my camera once and disappeared forever. I watched my friends grow up, fall in love, have children of their own.

Often I am terrified of The Bronx. Other times it feels like home. The interplay between good and evil; violence and love; chaos and family are the themes—but this is not a documentation. There is no “story line”. There is only a feeling.

The University of Texas Press is publishing Bronx Boys in the fall of 2014.

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© 2024 Stephen Shames / POLARIS PORTFOLIO