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Close Encounters with Bruce Gilden

Magnum photographer Bruce Gilden delivered his thoughts, memories, stories and witty commentary of his thousands of intimate moments with strangers.

In New York’s Coney Island, he learned to make captivating and sometimes-offbeat images out of the most everyday of events, bringing attention to the absurdity that life can show us.

His first trips to Haiti, Bruce documented the harsh realities of living in the poorest country in the world and fell in love with the rich dynamics and personalities. Later he would return after the earthquake and would show us a very different Haiti: One with a flared temperature and homemade ramshackle housing. Yet through Bruce’s lens, the houses are outdoor sculptures worthy of museums.

In Ireland he enjoyed capturing the conversations of betters at the racetracks, inadvertently showing us their culture and mingling of classes.

Then in Japan, the Yakuza, political gangsters, motorcycle kids, sociopaths, homeless, drunkards and prostitutes all emerge for Bruce’s camera, exposing the underbelly of what many see as a contained and well-behaved society.

Whether Bruce documents Fresno, California, or Reno Nevada, or his home of News York City, it’s a close encounter. Not always beautiful, but always full of truth and the community made up of characters.

(by Meredith Kamuda / Corbis)

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