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#de_VICE: Our mobile ‘addiction’

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2012.

Story highlights

Zack Arias' #de_VICE series shows people lost in the world of their digital devices

He started the personal project during a trip to New York in 2011

CNN  — 

In a world where texts, tweets and Facebook are constantly accessible through always-handy cell phones, it seems we are never left alone. Photographer Zack Arias’ #de_VICE series captures people who are lost in the world of their digital devices.

“We are tethered to our devices to the point they may be a vice,” Arias wrote on his blog. “I know I struggle with it. Once you are in the iWorld it’s amazing how unaware you become of your surroundings.”

Arias, a commercial photographer, started the personal project during a trip to New York in 2011. As he walked onto the bustling sidewalk, he saw a girl in a white dress looking down at her phone. He snapped a picture. He turned, saw someone else on a phone, and snapped another picture. Suddenly, in a “movie moment,” he looked around and realized he was surrounded by people on their phones.

Photographer Zack Arias

“Why are we on these?” he asked himself. “Are we bored? Lonely? … How important is being on my phone right now?” These questions have changed the rules in his Atlanta home. No more cell phones at the dinner table.

Using a Fuji X100, which has a fixed wide-angle lens, Arias gets up close and personal with his oblivious subjects. Due to its compact size and almost-silent leaf shutter, he considers the “stealthy camera” ideal for this type of street photography. Converting the images to black and white “strips everything away and just leaves the subject material.”

As the project goes on, Arias continues to seek more layers of people in compact spaces on their phones or tablets – or sometimes both.

“Rarely do I see someone looking at their device happy,” he said. “Maybe we should de-vice ourselves, as in ridding ourselves from them just a little bit.”

Zack Arias is a commercial photographer based in Atlanta. You can read his blog or follow him on Twitter.