Powerful Portraits Show What Life Is Like In A Trailer Park

In his new photo series “Trailer Park,” photographer David Waldorf gives us a glimpse of life inside a trailer park. Waldorf photographed the residents of the Brookside Trailer Park in Sonoma, California, over several months, trading printed portraits for time with his subjects.

The veteran photographer chose Brookside Park because he had a mutual friend with the owner, so he was able to easily gain permission to speak with residents. Waldorf told Business Insider he has “always kind of liked trailer parks.”

Waldorf said he gained trust from the locals and even became friends with them over the 5-month project. “I enjoy talking with the people who have had a harder life and who are a lot more open to telling their stories,” he said. “For me, I think their stories are little more interesting.”

Waldorf says when he first entered the park, the residents were hesitant to speak with him and didn’t want him in their homes.

Trailer Park Sonoma

David Waldorf

However, once he took a few photos of them and showed them the results, they spread the word in the community and suddenly, everyone wanted their photos taken with their families.

He says that on the second day, he stayed taking photos until 1 am.

Once he knew he was on to something, Waldorf returned to the park every couple of weeks to shoot more.

Cody, the son in the photo below, has epidermolysis bullosa, a skin disorder which causes blisters. “He was just a really nice kid,” Waldorf said. Because of his disease, Waldorf originally thought Cody was 14 or 15, but he was actually in his 20s at the time. His family ended up liking this portrait so much that they blew it up and put it on their wall. Today, Cody is living in his own apartment, according to Waldorf.

These three brothers, all of whom worked at Walgreens, stood out to him as well. He had them wear their uniforms in this shot because one of them had to go to work right after.

Waldorf adds that they were a lot of fun to hang out with, too.

He says he also enjoyed photographing this grandmother and granddaughter.

Certain shoots were memorable, as well. During the making of the photo on the left, Waldorf said the mother shouted for the daughter to join her, even though she was showering. For the photo on the right, he said he brought a taxidermied fox to place in the corner of the shot.

He said staging the shots were part of the fun for him, artistically.

A group of migrant workers who labored in the nearby Sonoma fields also lived in the park.

One of the most surprising things was the strong sense of community in the park, Waldorf said.

He added that regardless of circumstances, the residents really looked out for each other.

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