Artist's Statement


Photographers take inspiration from artists who have preceded them, from their own life experiences, and from the texture, light and shapes of the world around them. My images of people from around the world build on the vision of W. Eugene Smith, the unobtrusive camera of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Sebastiao Salgado while expressing a personal vision of the shared experiences of mankind.

With my camera, I seek the personality of my subject, understanding the paradox that, in uncovering the characteristics that distinguish and enliven a person, I simultaneously discover the threads of universal connection. Like Salgado, I train my lens on the common man, though with less focus on exploitation, I seek instead to capture the essence of individuals as they go about the modest business of daily living.

As a professor of international relations, my research on the origins and resolution of violent human conflict has satisfied my intellect, but stimulated my emotional self to search for common connections across cultures. In my travels around the world, photography has helped me to gain insight into the unique individuals who are also part of an underlying common culture, and to let the world know that the same story is told again and again, in many different ways.

Political scientists try to explain a complex world through simple models. In a similar way, I visually explore a complex world through simple, uncluttered composition. Spare and potent images draw the viewer's attention. Often a strong geometry guides the eye to key unifying compositional elements.

My long lens enables me to enter into the intimacy of others' lives, if only for 1/125th of a second. The moment I capture grows with each eye that absorbs my images. Distinct moments from different lives culminate in a vision that we are not outsiders, but partners in a shared experiment.

David R. Mares
San Diego, CA