Bieke Depoorter spends her nights in the homes of strangers. Traveling across the United States she photographs families, couples, and individuals at night in their most intimate spaces. Her new book I am about to call it a day was made over the course of four years and eight visits to the U.S. It presents a genuine and honest series of portraits that come from staying just one night in a stranger’s home.
Photographing I am about to call it a day begins at sundown, when people are doing just that, calling it a day. Depoorter observes the people on the streets as they go about their lives. She does not have set criteria for whom she approaches, but looks for behavior that indicates she can trust them. In this work, trust is crucial. During her first five visits to the Unites States, Depoorter, lacking in funds, hitchhiked to her locations. These initial encounters with strangers before arriving at her destination are a fitting part of the journey. She finds these small villages appealing and has included in the book the surrounding landscapes to offer a vague sense of place. When viewed at night, the landscapes take on the same cinematic atmosphere as the portraits.
The unpredictability of the responses is part of what makes the project so captivating. With each night Depoorter finds a new subject and a new story. Her approach may seem intrusive, but Depoorter considers herself a person first and a photographer second. She is respectful both in her initial request and with the careful and considered portraits she produces. The book itself is its own intimate space inviting you to linger over her cinematic portraits of these brief but intense interactions and the intimacy of strangers.
All images © Bieke Depoorter