Back in 2018, one of Caleb Stein’s images was selected by Martin Parr in our Open Call competition – an image we described as direct, austere and honest, and that it transpires came from his long-term series Down by the Hudson.
It’s a body of work he has been slowly and lovingly crafting for almost a decade, an ode to the small upstate New York town of Poughskeepie in his adopted home of the US. And central to it is the town’s watering hole, where people of all ages, races and status come to relax in the warm summer months.
In a world that feels increasingly complex, anxious, busy and partisan, the watering hole at Poughkeepsie seems like an antithesis to that – a mini-Eden of tranquillity, play and community – “a reprieve of sorts from the tensions of our era” as Caleb puts it. Shot in black & white, and with few clues to the present day, it seems to exist in its own time and space, and Caleb introduces us to the characters who frequent it through a series of intimate portraits.
Recently exhibiting the series in Los Angeles, he’s perhaps – non-committal by his own admission – drawn a line under the project, and so it felt like a good time to ask Caleb some questions about it.