Photographer's startling images show what cellphones are really doing to us

Oct 14, 2015 at 4:07 p.m. ET
Image: Eric Pickersgill

North Carolina photographer Eric Pickersgill had just gotten married when he left for an artist's residency program in upstate New York. He was feeling homesick and a little disconnected. Then one morning, he went to a local café and noticed a family eating breakfast together... but apart. All but one was connected to a gadget. 

"They were all sharing the same physical space, however they were engaging with people and content elsewhere, and maybe it was the beautiful light and the mother who wasn’t using a device that made me see the situation as a photograph," Pickersgill tells SheKnows. In that moment, an idea for a photo series began to take shape. 

Removed is Pickersgill's series, an exploration of moments when people have tuned out from one another and tuned in to their gadgets. In photo after photo, thanks to Pickersgill's artistry, we get to see how we would appear without a phone in hand... but our attention turned elsewhere.

The photo above was borne of his first idea: "One night after getting back from the residency, I slipped back into my old ways of using my device while in bed with my wife despite having that moment of realization in New York. As my eyes began to slowly close while checking my emails, I awoke to the sound of my phone hitting the floor. Before I thought to bend over the edge to pick it up, I looked at my partially curled open palm resting on the edge of the bed that still held the shape of my dropped device. I realized that was how I would be able to make the photographs for Removed."

1 /21: Wedded bliss

1/21 :Wedded bliss

2 /21: Snapping away

2/21 :Snapping away

3 /21: The neighbors

3/21 :The neighbors

4 /21: What's there?

4/21 :What's there?

5 /21: Cody and Erica

5/21 :Cody and Erica

6 /21: Cuddling

6/21 :Cuddling

7 /21: On the water

7/21 :On the water

8 /21: At play

8/21 :At play

9 /21: Head-on

9/21 :Head-on

10 /21: Cookin'

10/21 :Cookin'

11 /21: Couch potatoes

11/21 :Couch potatoes

12 /21: Let me take a photo

12/21 :Let me take a photo

13 /21: The man who minds

13/21 :The man who minds

14 /21: Snip, snip

14/21 :Snip, snip

15 /21: Mom and Dad

15/21 :Mom and Dad

16 /21: Photo of a photo

16/21 :Photo of a photo

17 /21: Side by side

17/21 :Side by side

18 /21: Ice cream

18/21 :Ice cream

19/21 :Mom

20 /21: The whole family

20/21 :The whole family

21 /21: At the store

21/21 :At the store