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News & Insight

These Are The Faces Of NYC’s Craigslist Personal Ads | Strictly Platonic

By Bing Putney on May 3rd 2017

New York is the most populous city in the United States. People are crammed into apartment buildings, restaurants, cafes and subway cars, and yet anyone who has lived there for a significant amount of time can tell you how isolating it can sometimes feel. Whether the sheer volume of humanity becomes in itself overwhelming, or the frenetic pace of the city grows exhausting, finding meaningful connections in the city that never sleeps can be a massive challenge for some.

Where does one turn when they find themselves in this predicament of searching for friendship in a torrent of quick, insignificant interactions?

Craigslist, of course.

Specifically, the “strictly platonic” section. If you’re not familiar with this brand of personal ads, they span a wide gamut, and reveal brief glimpses into the lives and personalities of their authors.

Artist and art lover seeking friends – m4mw

Friendly, giving, semi-retired, gay man, age 63 partnered, intensely interested in the arts (mainly fine art), art history looking to enlarge my group of friends. Artist, art educator and art lover here looking to share and develop a dialogue with others. I am looking for either male or female friends who enjoy going to galleries, museums or perhaps travel. Brooklyn based and looking forward to hearing from you. Thanks.

In 2015, New York-based photographer Peter Garritano became interested in the idea of people with obscure, niche interests finding friendship and community in his city. In his words:

“How can loneliness exist in such a diverse crowd? I started digging into that idea and found personals ads opened a window into that concept from a first person perspective.”

Soccer player at De Witt Physical Rehab Bored to death Seeks Visitors
Just looking for friends to talk too, wheelchair around the block no need to push me, coffee shop my treat. I was transferred here the other day after 2 weeks from NY Presbyterian Downtown Hospital for physical therapy. Have my own private room with TV lol and big window facing an apt. bldg. Don’t know how long I will be confined here maybe 2 weeks to a month.If you are sane cool and nice person to talk to come over after work and keep me company. Visiting Hours till 9 pm. We can talk almost anything. Ideal for Female or Male who lives nearby. Did some male modeling (print, billboard and runway mostly in Asia and Latin America) that was then.
Dislikes: liars, conceited, b.o. rude to other ppl. anti-Catholic, drama queen, alcoholic, druggie and gold diggers lol
College Grad. Medical Dropout, martial artist, bike and car racing, club house n electro mix and more. ​This is strictly for friendship not looking for FWB. Just bored

So, Peter began to respond to some of the more compelling ads that he found, asking if he could meet and photograph the people behind the ads. Though nearly 95% of his requests went unanswered, he was able to arrange meetings and portrait sittings with a selection of New Yorkers who collectively represent a fascinating variety of interests, hopes, fears, ambitions, and backgrounds.

“If they responded at all, it was generally positive and I think the participants were interested for various reasons. Some thought the project was interesting or just wanted the experience of having a portrait taken, others maybe just wanted to get out of the house and meet someone new.”

He has assembled the series on his website, petergarritano.com, and displays the photos simply, with no caption or description of his own, only the original craigslist ad. This presentation creates an arresting, deeply personal experience in the viewer, as if you’re able to peer into a tiny but telling moment of someone’s life. The ads reveal such specific, private details of their lives, and reading them alongside the portraits of the people who posted them fills in so many captivating blanks.

33 year old woman going to Zen temple for first time, intro night at 6:30pm tonight on East 14th Street. Looking for new friends who are also interested in meditation to join me.

Female Rapper Looking To Expand With Musicians & Photographers, etc – w4w
First & foremost, I don’t need “help” with my music career and all the music I publish and every move I make to supply hits to the world will be ALL on ME. No hands out necessary. Looking for people who writes music, plays an instrument(s), raps/sings, photographers, video blogs, produce beats, has a studio, etc. Looking to collab and drop hella hits all next year, so I’m looking for dope people! Trying to blow up and have a decent fan base by next year since I’m new to the game. For my Soundcloud/Instagram, text me

From a photographic perspective, the series features a diversity of styles befitting its subjects. The pictures are clearly defined more by the personalities of the subjects than the aesthetic or ambition of the photographer, an attribute of the project that certainly contributes to its ultimate success. In approaching these shoots, Garritano notes a marked contrast in relation to a typical portrait shoot, where he can begin with a clear idea in mind.

“I tried to be more journalistic and imagine the shot only after meeting them and interacting for a while. Forcing myself to improvise like this was part of the challenge I wanted.”

Drinks after BB King – m4w
​Tomorrow night, Monday February 22nd, at BB King’s there is an event titled A Conversation with Pussy Riot. A discussion on Human rights, Black Lives Matter, LGBT Rights and other social topics.
​If anyone would like to meet up and go and get drinks afterwards and discuss this forum lets meet up. The more the merrier. E-mail me and we can exchange info and decide where to meet. Again, anyone is welcome to join. It should be super interesting.

The project has garnered some notable attention as well. The New Yorker recently published a piece about Garritano and his project, focusing on his novel approach to exploring the phenomenon of loneliness in such a crowded city.

For his part, Mr. Garritano says that this is a step in his photographic transition into portraiture. He has little formal photography education, but doesn’t consider that to be a hindrance given the abundance of quality online resources. Initially, “Seeking” was, in addition to being a way into a subject about which he was curious, “…a good reason to get out and shoot a ton of portraits.”

yoga for guys – m4m
Ready to recharge your body for spring? Let’s defrost with yoga! I’m an experienced yoga instructor looking to take on committed students for weekly or bi-weekly sessions. If you’re stiff, stressed, or just curious, let’s get in touch.

[REWIND: Photography Trends 2017 – It’s Not Presets]

Through working on the project, he says that he’s learned a lot about directing his portrait subjects. “I try to continuously change the sorts of language I use when I’m directing and track what works and what doesn’t with different types of people. I’m always learning from those experiences. Piecing together tricks from here and there when I’m trying to coax a subject out of their preformed notions of a suitable pose.”

Garritano has taken a slightly unconventional path into his career in photography. He studied business in college and then went into a corporate setting for some time before shifting gears to pursue his long-time interest in photography. He began by assisting an established professional photographer, before venturing into his own projects. When asked if he had any advice for aspiring photographers:

“When I first started there was a period of time when I was pursuing photography on the side, in addition to a handful of other interests and it’s hard to make significant inroads in one thing when you’re spreading yourself thin that way. I’d suggest committing yourself as fully as you’re financially able. Work your day job the absolute minimum you can afford to. Work on personal projects, assist as many people and as often as you can. It takes most people more than just a few years to get a solid foothold in the industry and it can be hard to be patient and persistent when you don’t feel like you’re making gains, but you’ve just got to stick with it.”

To see the complete photo series “Seeking” and more from Peter Garritano, see his website, or follow him on Instagram: @petergarritano

Are you taking time to enjoy the moment? – m4w
Seeking others who find simplicity and a slower pace of life poignant and attractive.
I grew up in England and I have lived in Holland, Greece, Belgium and have traveled most of Europe as well as Eastern Europe and India. I came to the US in 2001 and have lived in FL, NC, GA, NJ and NYC. I also worked on a small cargo vessel sailing in the Pacific.
I have very little interest in accumulating stuff or watching TV instead I focus on being related to the world around me and developing deeper more meaningful friendships.I’m 51, English WM, conscious, gentle, free-spirit. I was married for 14 years, no children and divorced since 2009.
I have not had a full-time job since early June this year, and frankly it’s been a blessing in so many ways. I have had to downsize to almost nothing, I don’t have a permanent place to live (no-rent), however, I do have some really awesome friends where I can stay, so I have not been living in a homeless-shelter or anything like that. These friends see me as a contribution to their lives and not a burden or parasite.
In September I rode my bicycle down the East coast to North Carolina where I had lived (2002-2006), so not only did I visit and stay with friends on the trip down (PA, MA, VA), but I had a really great time visiting friends I hadn’t seen in years in NC.
Simplicity has certainly given me a greater sense of gratitude and freedom.

CREDITS: All photographs by Peter Garritano are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

About

Bing is a professional portrait and on-set still photographer who lives in Los Angeles, and frequently travels the world to explore new and interesting cultures and pastries.

Website: bingputneyphotography.com
Instagram: @bingputney

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