“I’ve always been fascinated with the story of the man and his surroundings. The isolated man. The working man. The fighting man. But it isn’t the stereotypes that interest me. Even though it is soldiers and cowboys, it’s the stereotypes turned upside down. It’s the skinny Afghan soldier receiving three weeks of training, before being sent to the frontline. It is the Brazilian cowboy who can only afford four bullets in his six-shooter or the boys and men working all night catching bush crickets in Uganda for pennies. They live in the vast landscapes, in the jungles, in the chaos. Many of them are forgotten or unknown by the outside world.
Some, I spent seconds with, others longer. Like the Mexican mezcal producers. I slept at their homes for a couple of days. In a shed, on a concrete floor somewhere, or next to the fire keeping the mezcal cooking. We talked at night and during day-time they showed me around on their agave fields. We never spoke before meeting each other. I simply showed up one day and they welcomed me in to their lives for a few days, letting me take their picture.
To me the most personal form of photography is the portrait. It is someone giving themselves to everyone else. Allowing their story, their face and eyes, their person to be forever. I rarely instruct the people in my portraits. I don’t ask them to stand or sit in a certain way. I just turn around and there they are. Looking at me. Like an anonymous sculpture only there for a short glimpse.
These men continue to trigger my curiosity. I was there photographing them, I remember the moment, but that is all. Afterwards they become the person on the photograph more than the person I met. They remain unknown to me.
I guess that is why I always preferred keeping the men of my photographs untitled.” - Nikolaj Moeller