The Atlantic: "Photographing the American Dreamers"

Some of my photos were selected by The Atlantic for this series on the "American Dream". An essay was included in the submission. Here are the original photos, the collaborations, and the essay.

Originally published in The Atlantic, September 2, 2015

Emily Anne Epstein

"What is the American dream? What does it look like? How many types of American dreams are there, and how many have there been?

Seeking answers to these questions, though fun, is a fruitless pursuit. Everyone, American or not, has his or her own idea of a life actualized. And every great American photographer, be it Robert Frank, Richard Avedon or Ansel Adams, has photographed a different America. That’s why this past month has been so interesting: I’ve had the pleasure of seeing how Atlantic readers see the American dream, minute by minute and day by day, thanks to the hashtag #AtlanticAmericanDream. To some readers, the dream is as simple as a flag. To others, it’s a building piercing through clouds. To many, it’s a quiet moment with friends and family."

"The dream with a capital “D,” of course, cannot be contained in a single photograph or a simple phrase. The dream is all these things at once, to everyone. It’s a proud cacophony of cultures that intersect and challenge one another, and below you’ll find images just like that. EchoSight's Daniella Zalcman and myself have sifted through all the Tweets and Instagrams to find the loudest images, and then mashed them up with images louder still. We also asked the photographers to tell us a little about their photographs and their dreams, which are included below each montage and have all been condensed and edited."

The American dream is many things to many people. It’s a big house with two cars in the garage and a white picket fence surrounding a large yard. It’s a big, loving family. It’s a fulfilling, and well-paying, career that allows one to do whatever one wishes in the pursuit of happiness. While that’s decidedly not the dream for many, that is how it’s marketed. Or how it was to me, at least. While all of those things are absolutely attainable, the dream is a nearly unachievable realm of the sublime.

When I think of the American Dream it makes me think of those ideals, but also how far removed they can be from the American reality. Upon reflection, I suppose this image represents the unremarkable, everyday experiences that inform and shape each of us while we achieve or maintain our own version of that dream. This scene is America the almost. America the getting by. America the occasional disappointment. America the Thursday. America the trying, we're doing the best we can. America the beautiful dream.

-Patrick Lorenz

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