DAVE JORDANO // Darkness In The Light

Dave Jordano (b. 1948, Detroit, Michigan) received his degree in photography from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit in 1974. After moving to Chicago in 1977 he established a successful freelance commercial photography studio for 30 years. Specializing in food and product photography, he shot major campaigns for national and international clients. Since his return to fine art/documentary photography Jordano was awarded an honorable mention in the Houston Center for Photography’s Long Term Fellowship Project in 2003, and received the Curator’s Choice Award the following year. In both 2006 and 2008 he was shortlisted as a finalist in the Photolucia “Critical Mass” national book award in Portland, OR. He was also selected for inclusion in “One Hundred Portfolios”, a competition sponsored by Wright State University, Dayton, OH, featuring the work of 100 leading photographers from around the world. In 2009, his first book, titled “Articles of Faith” was published by The Center for American Places at Columbia College, which coincided with a major exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center. 

Jordano’s work is included in the permanent collections of The Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art, at Northwestern University, the Federal Reserve Bank, the Harris Bank Collection and many corporate and private collections. The following galleries, Clark Gallery, Lincoln, MA, Photoeye.com, and Stieglitz 19 Gallery, Antwerp, Belgium, represent Jordano.


This ongoing series of portraits were made while working on my project about Detroit’s neighborhoods. In doing so, I couldn’t help but notice an unusually high number of white women who were, for lack of a better term, “working the streets” in broad daylight. Unencumbered by any threat from the Detroit police, whose presence is often minimalized due to short staffing and budget cuts, coupled with the ease of accessible drugs and the proliferation of dope houses, their free reign of the neighborhoods seemed as casual and familiar as that of the local postman. These women, caught in the vicious cycle of addiction, are all suffering from some form of substance abuse, resorting to prostitution as the only way they know to feed their drug habit. My approach to this project is not to cast an aire of lightness to the situation, but to photograph these woman in as casual a way as possible so that your perception as to what and who they are is ambiguous. The meaning of the photograph challenges the viewer to consider alternate possibilities of identity and in doing so brings a closer sense of association with them. In this way they could be considered just normal people, perhaps a friend or sister, someone close to you or a loved one, but in reality someone caught in the grip of a paralyzing and devastating reality.

Sometimes accompanied by a boyfriend, husband, or pimp who is also an addict, they risk their lives daily. Many have been stabbed, had guns held to their heads, been severely beaten, robbed and then thrown out of a moving car, and even held hostage and repeatedly raped. Apart from their own dire circumstance, which they have little control over, their addiction has far more reaching consequences that affect friends, lovers, and relatives, but also the children of many of these women who are taken away and placed into foster care. 

As the father of a healthy daughter, the thought of these women having to live a life so mentally and physically debilitating only makes this project that much more meaningful to me. These women shouldn’t be seen as criminals, but more likely as victims without a voice, trapped in a living hell. I hope these photographs can remind us of the fragility of our own demise and bring awareness to how easily it can be to lose one’s self.