In 2010, my high school classmates and I turned 30. As we entered adulthood we had reason to be optimistic and confident. Our formative years were cocooned in security, a youth spent in a time of economic growth and low unemployment.
This is what we were promised: “You are being bequeathed the tools for achieving a material existence that neither my generation or any that preceded it could have even remotely imagined as we began our life’s work.” – Allan Greenspan 1999 commencement speech.
But when I made these photographs, unemployment hovered at 9.6 percent. Housing foreclosures were at an all-time high and personal bankruptcy filings affected 1.7 million Americans. My generation is the first in 100 years unlikely to be financially better off than its parents. It’s in this moment of transition that I photographed my classmates in settings relevant to the lives they are building.
The images show a community last assembled at graduation during America’s most prosperous moment, regrouping in 2009-2010 during the toughest economic and social circumstances since the Great Depression. These portraits examine what had been gained or lost in the interim.
Some are recovering from job losses, drug and alcohol addiction and loss of family. Others are building families, achieving in their early careers and volunteering in their communities. They are gay and straight, veteran and adult entertainer, married and divorced. Like all generations, we struggle to define ourselves as parents, citizens, family members and spouses. We work to create meaningful lives; we work to understand what “meaningful” looks like.