Lucky All the Time.

Marissa Leitman

2015 - Ongoing

Berlin, Germany; California, United States; New York, United States; Hollywood, California, United States; Oakland, California, United States

Lucky all the Time spans the time of the last five years. Through the Ghost Ship fire, and ending in Berlin, I use these photos to track the network of people who comprise a sort of makeshift family. I’m drawn to people who throw themselves at life: people who don’t know when the performance starts and stops. In every city, I look for people who feel like total individuals, who have a zealous sense of how they want to be in the world but still feel vulnerable.

​I have a rule that I don’t take a picture of someone unless I know their name. Photography for me has always linked to my relationships. I shoot mostly with a Mamiya c330, a big metal medium format camera, with an extended vivitar flash. It is a camera you can’t hide; it is slow and obtrusive. The subject of my photos is always aware of our presence, me plus machine. For me, photography is the most direct human exchange because you have to admit that you want to look at someone. it's about diving into obsession and fessing up attraction. I use my photos to relate to my own real-time moments of negotiation and pleasure. It forces me to reckon with the ungraspable.

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  • My mother.

  • Eric ad his little brother Noah.

  • Statue of a woman overlooking an estate in Hollywood.

  • Zoe the day after being roofied.

  • Broken Statue of Liberty in New York.

  • Every Tuesday, I go to watch drag at Aunt Charlie’s. In 2016, on the night of the presidential election, we watched the results on TV as we waited for the drag show to begin. The show was designed as if Hillary Clinton won. It felt like our own show was mocking us. I took this photo of Mandy Coco—dressed as a female politician, holding an American Flag—performing Abba’s “The Winner Takes It All.”

    Aunt Charlie’s is the oldest gay bar in the Tenderlion. It was truly surreal to see the younger queer regulars grapple with what was to come alongside the older regulars, who comprise a lost generation that survived the AIDS epidemic.

  • George was getting kicked out of his apartment in Berlin. He had his daughters for the weekend, no money, and two weeks to move out. George and the girls’ mother separated some time ago. On some of the days that he had the kids, I would come to help out. When I got to his apartment, his daughter would have tantrum unless Geroge held her, making it difficult to pack.

    I asked George if I could take a photo of him and Ofelia. He demanded that he shave first. He set her down for a second and the tears immediately started pouring.