“I’ll Be Right Back…”

That's the title of a series of pictures I started in 2002. This picture was taken Friday during our visit to New Brunswick.

The full title of the series is, "I'll Be Right Back: Visits to Men's Rooms and Bathrooms."

I promise not to gross you out.

In 2002, I wrote a story about digital photography, which was also my introduction to the subject, having shot film until then. I borrowed a couple of small digital cameras and took them on a family trip to San Francisco.

We went to a lot of restaurants in San Fran and Berkeley, and one of the things they had were very interesting bathrooms, visually speaking. It became a joke in my family that Dad had to check out the men’s room in every place we went. So when I said, "I’ll be right back," they knew, well, that I wouldn’t necessarily be right back, depending on what I saw.

From the beginning, the pictures were not about bodily functions (in fact there are no people in any of them). They were not about what’s called "bathroom humor." They were about the odd originality and unexpected beauty to be found in these spaces that people–for perfectly understandable reasons–don’t spend much time actually looking at.

The series grew quickly at first. Not only on the trip, but back home in Jersey, in New York City, in fact everywhere I went, I found things worth photographing.

Then after a couple years, diminishing returns set in. Everything I saw I felt I had seen before. Still, I’m always looking, and from time to time I find something that extends the series.

This particular men’s room yielded two pictures I like. For me, that’s like hitting the lottery.

A number of pictures from the series can be seen at gallery51.org, the site of Andy Foster’s Montclair art gallery. Click on "Artist Spotlight" on the home page.


Click here to leave a comment
Click to enlarge images

By submitting comments you grant permission for all or part of those comments to appear in the print edition of New Jersey Monthly.

Required not shown
Required not shown