Ward Long is a photographer from Los Angeles, California. Working in his home state and the American South, his pictures describe loss, people, and landscape with literary precision and cinematic sequencing. His photographs treat light as revelation, and blend a documentary approach with personal storytelling. Making books by hand, his work twists text, image, and craft into strands of poetic narrative. He graduated from the Photography MFA program at the University of Hartford in 2015, where he studied with Alec Soth, Mark Steinmetz, and Susan Lipper.
Stranger Come Home documents a longing for steady love and looks at how the unlived life haunts the everyday. In the aftermath of a breakup, I sold all of my furniture, shoved everything else in storage, and left the place I used to live. I ran for months on end; I visited my parents on one coast, old friends on another, and moved ten times. I missed the old apartment, how every book on the shelf stood for the life we shared. Staring at my parents’ houseplants, or a friend’s kitchen sink, I wondered if I would find my way back.
Shot over the course of two years, the pictures in Stranger Come Home attempt to create a place where all losses are recovered and everything belongs. Drawing on my own experience and family stories of love and loss, this body of work envisions an idealized domesticity, and observes how that imagined world shadows everyday life. Household tableaus, backyard landscapes, and tender portraits hint at a lifetime of sunny afternoons and togetherness. Pictures of done dishes and leafy neighborhood streets hover between reality and remembrance, but the perfect peace can’t last. Dreams are beautiful because they are brief. Longing for a place of your own cannot be separated from the fear you’ll never find it.