Peter Dobis: The Shadows | Portfolio

Photo by Peter Dobis
Photo by Peter Dobis
Photo by Peter Dobis
Photo by Peter Dobis
Photo by Peter Dobis
Photo by Peter Dobis

The Shadows project tells the story of a community living on the edge and at the periphery of the mainstream society in Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia. I started this long term-project in the summer 2013 when I decided to cover the life of poor and homeless people. But in different way than we usually see homelessness presented. Thus, my pictures do not show homeless people sleeping and begging directly in the streets for I did not want to come with a typical homeless street images. My goal was to unhide the parallel world hidden in our city. We do not have slums in Bratislava. People stay at any kind of abandoned buildings, shelters, cottages or garages or sleep in social dormitories if they want to and have few euros for it.

I had to start somewhere. First idea was simple, go out and find first people to photograph. During summer 2013, I photographed first homeless couple that I found living in an abandoned building. The beginning was not easy and I spent lot of time with this couple, working with them, trying to make good pictures. However, I learned a lot during these first months. I began to understand the way these people live, where they stay, how they survive.

Later on I met lot of different people. There was Zolo among others. He was very intelligent and clever and lived in his own handmade built shelter in the woods near the river Danube. He had never told me his full story but knew 3 times more about politics and literature then I did. He lived with cats and was one of the few who never wanted any money from me. In fact, we stayed friends and I visit him from time to time. He helped me as well and told me where to go next. And thus I found next people and next interesting places.

To be be honest, I did not meet only clever guys like Zolo and I got in touch with alcohol and drug addicts, former criminals or psychiatric patients. My project continued during whole 2014 when I met lot of new people. After several months I started to photograph in one social dormitory where I was very well accepted by Marta (former homeless) who was the chief of it. When I explained my idea and show some images she allowed me to move freely around the place, come whenever I wanted to and take photographs.

In general, I moved form one point to another as I was still meeting new people and discovering new things. It is a continuous process. On top of that, I became really accepted. Thus, after certain period of time I had several pictures from the outside (shelters, abandoned buildings) and from the inside of social dormitories as well. But this was not the endpoint as I was unhiding new areas of life of these people.

I want to cover this topic in its complexity. It means to document dark sides as drugs, violence and brutality in relationships as well. This is much more delicate and difficult to cover and I am still working on it. You need to be patient and very careful while dealing with these issues, try to find good contact points (if possible) and then take some risk as well. There is still lot to be covered. If everything goes well I want to continue in this work.

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