What started out for Stephen Shames as an assignment for Look magazine back in 1977 turned into an epic twenty two year project documenting the lives of young boys in the Bronx, New York.
Stephen Shames is known for his award winning photo essays on social issues for foundations, advocacy organizations, the media and museums. In this project, the Bronx Boys captures the powerful and overwhelming notions of hope, love and violence in the northernmost of the five boroughs of New York City.
As Shames attests,
“The Bronx has a terrible beauty— stark and harsh—like the desert. At first glance you imagine nothing can survive. Then you notice life going on all around. People adapt, survive, and even prosper in this urban moonscape of quick pleasures and false hopes.
In the 1700s Thomas Hobbes described life in a state of nature as “continual fear and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Life is still that way in The Bronx.
These are pictures of friends I met as children who became my family, as well as people who stepped in front of my camera once and disappeared forever. I watched my friends grow up, fall in love, have children of their own.
Often I am terrified of The Bronx. Other times it feels like home. The interplay between good and evil; violence and love; chaos and family are the themes—but this is not a documentation. There is no “story line”. There is only a feeling.”
Check out these INCREDIBLE photographs featured in TIME Lightbox. Click here for images!
Also check out this feature in Slate Magazine – Here.