Joce, Ottawa, 2010 © Tony Fouhse.

Despite being four years deep in his project USER, Tony Fouhse is more confused than ever by what it all means.

I recommend you read his latest blog post. Fouhse talks about beginning his fourth and final year on the project, subjects who have died, and the gratitude of one of his subjects now she is clean.

The post is a reflection and it is as much for him as it is for us.


I hope that you are all aware of his work photographing the crack addicts in Ottawa – not forgetting the interviews, the coverage, the love and the controversy that follows any project such as this that positions addicts as the subject of fine art.

So, I want to say a few things.

– Tony has been very open to discussion and criticism of his work. He will also defend his work with vigour, as often criticism leveled at his work is – in some guise – puritan criticism of photography in general.

– Tony’s subjects love his work; many go to the USER exhibition openings. Dawn was one of Tony’s subjects; her letter is included in Tony’s latest blog post: “I would like the picture so I can remind myself that I do not want to look that horrible or be that desperate again. I really do appreciate your work and all that you do. I have followed your work since I got clean. Please let me know if you have a copy of the picture.”

– Tony has shown real commitment to his process and the subjects. Yes, he is trying to construct a meaningful “complex sequence”, but that doesn’t mean he is manipulating his subjects, dropping in and out of their difficult lives. The best illustration of this is the map below. Every portrait over the past four years he has shot on this same corner. He knows all these men and women.

Portfolio at his website: