Photographer Gives Intimate Look Inside Bedrooms Across America

barbara peacock photography american bedroom

Alice & Chris, age 38 and 40. “Time alone is rare with busy lives, two kids, and a cat. Any time we get we savor, as summer just seems to seep away.” Portland, Maine

After enjoying a successful commercial photography career and raising a family, photographer Barbara Peacock is embarking on an incredible journey into the bedrooms of average Americans. With American Bedroom, she is taking an intimate—and anthropological—look at the most personal of spaces, asking friends, family, and strangers to open themselves up to her candid photographs.

Inspired by the work of documentary photographer Walker Evans, Peacock captures the small idiosyncrasies that make up the fabric of the American public. Not posed or prodded, her subjects make themselves vulnerable, allowing her to document a wide range of emotions—from childhood joy to intense loneliness.

In many ways, the project is a continuation of her book, Hometown, which contains 33 years of photographs documenting daily life and personal rituals in her hometown of Westford, Massachusetts. Moving beyond New England, she's aiming to cover the entire United States as the project continues, with her thus far covering parts of the East Coast and South. One year in, she's learned quite a bit about her process, and her subjects.

barbara peacock photography american bedroom

Cody, age 15. “It’s been really frustrating. I can’t do anything. I can’t hang out with my friends, can’t play sports. I’m stuck here…just me and my illness.” (Rheumatic Fever) Portland, Maine

“I am learning that there are a lot of lonely people. I am learning that people have stories they want to share if someone will listen,” Peacock shares with My Modern Met. “I am learning that people are fragile and conversely very strong. I am learning that being photographed can be an important moment in someone’s life. I am learning to listen.”

Her subjects come from all walks of life. Some are friends or acquaintances, others are strangers she reaches out to on social media when arriving at her destination. And sometimes, she simply leaves a card with information about the project at local shops. Each approach has yielded results and allowed her to enter into the homes of a wide variety of the American public.

Typically spending about an hour with her subjects, she looks for commonalities that can draw them together. Each photograph is accompanied by a statement, giving further insight into the psyche around the subject. “Within the obvious dissimilarities there may be between me and my subjects, there are core likenesses as well,” she explains. “It can be anything, the love of books or dogs, the countryside, fresh air, the yearning to travel or a type of food. Usually, it is the smiles that are exchanged, much like being in a third world country that is all you need. We live different lives but we have so many similarities that can be embraced.”

barbara peacock photography american bedroom

Pepere, age 88. “When I wake up in the morning, I try to be very quiet so I don’t wake her, then I remember she is not there.” Jay, Maine

Peacock envisions that the project will take three to five years to complete. Entirely self-funded, she was a recent recipient of the Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography. With careful planning, she'll be stretching that prize to help her travel to all quadrants of the United States, giving us a complete view of what the American Bedroom really is.

Images from American Bedroom will be exhibited at The Fence in Boston, Massachusetts from October 2017 to January 2018 and Peacock will be signing copies of her book, Hometown, at Photoville in Brooklyn, New York on September 23 and 24, 2017.

Barbara Peacock's ongoing documentary photography project American Bedroom is a look inside the intimate rooms of everyday Americans.

barbara peacock photography american bedroom

Jessica, age 18. “Sometimes life throws you in all sorts of directions, the most important part
about life is to remember you are exactly where you need to be.” Milford, New Hampshire

barbara peacock photography american bedroom

Nito, age 35. “Much of what you see isn’t some showcase of fun colorful things I’ve acquired. Everything contains a story attached to my friends and life experiences. So, despite its cluttered look, having easy access to those cherished memories is quite calming and helps me still feel close to those people and experiences.” Cambridge, Massachusetts

barbara peacock photography american bedroom

Carroll , age 95. “Is this my home?” Biddeford, Maine

barbara peacock photography american bedroom

Jon, age 71. “My wife and I, along with our Charley dog and two cats, live in a round house at the end of a ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, because we believe in the circle of life and that what goes around, comes around.” Boone, North Carolina

barbara peacock photography american bedroom

Holly & Nathan, age 38 and 40. “We’ve been off the grid for 20 years—we are committed and enjoy helping creative people with their art.” Deep Gap, North Carolina

barbara peacock photography american bedroom

Elmer, age 71. “I have lived a life of miracles, and I shall live forever, the flesh looks wasted but the spirit is alive and well.” Boone, North Carolina

barbara peacock photography american bedroom

barbara peacock photography american bedroom

Winslow, age 20. “I just moved home from Chicago, leaving behind dozens of friends and my life for the past year. The only thing of merit I was able to bring home was my cat Juno.” Westford, Massachusetts

barbara peacock photography american bedroom

Avey, age 3. “My fish is died.” Portland, Maine

barbara peacock photography american bedroom

Josh (age 38), Rean (age 37), Jackson (age 5), and Amelia (1 year). “I hate my bedroom. It’s so cramped and small. But, we waited a long time to have kids so when we are all together I’m happy.” Rean. Merrimac, Massachusetts

Barbara Peacock: Website | Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to use images by Barbara Peacock.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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