Michael Massaia never could relate to contrived portraiture but wanted to find a way to capture people on film and in print with the perfection of studio shots. His intention with this project was to capture people in what he considered to be perfect unassuming poses (poses that could never be posed). Massaia shot all of the images very close to the subjects while they were sunbathing or sleeping in Central Park’s Sheep Meadow (usually only a few feet away) and would simply wait for the moment when the subject appeared to completely surrender to their environment. Not having the luxury of communication with the subject, he was forced to be extremely patient in order to obtain the desired results.
In 2014, Massaia started working on a variation within this series, entitled “Deep in a Dream: Sheep Meadow-Vertical Abstracts”. He captures couples (in somewhat abstract positions) and then simply prints them vertically and backwards to give an appearance of otherworldly suspension. The vertical orientation also seems to aid in expressing the mindset of the subject.
Massaia makes by hand gold-toned silver gelatin prints for all of the images, where the surrounding grass is severely “burnt in” to isolate, thus giving the look of suspension to the subject. The majority of the images were created in Central Park’s Sheep Meadow, while a few were created in other small parks in the city.