Tuned in the key of melancholy

‘When I first met Dave Heath in the ’70s he struck me as the only human being I’d ever met whose vocal cords were tuned in the key of melancholy.’ 
- Michael Torosian 

Philadelphia Born photographer Dave Heath, was abandoned by both of his parents at a very young age and spent his childhood in orphanages and foster homes. The emotional trauma of this loss, inspired in him what Heath himself called “a need of joining the community of mankind”- a yearning for human connection.

He looked at the people around him with extraordinary sensibility and attention, observing not voyeuristically but with deep empathy and respect, almost as if reaching out to them through the lens of his camera. Within the multitude of a crowd, Heath seemed to instinctively be able to spot and capture intimate, vulnerable moments of solitude. As there is rarely any contact between the photographer and subject, the connection remains forever one way- existing solely within the image, infusing it with a sense of longing and tenderness.
It is through this feeling, that we connect with these strangers and feel like we see our own deepest moments of isolation, uncertainty, beauty or hurt reflected in their faces and bodies.

Dave Heath’s incredibly sincere photographs remind us, that at a deeper level we are all connected.
Dave Heath reminds us, that we are resilient.

Heath's photographs are quietly beautiful and remarkably hopeful and I look at them while sitting in momentarily solitude too, with words by Cheryl Strayed on my mind:
“Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. 
Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. 
Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. 
Acceptance is a small, quiet room.”


* all photographs copyright ©Dave Heath, click to enlarge