Most documentary projects about addiction expose someone else’s self-destructive behavior, but Graham MacIndoe took a very different approach: He photographed himself during the years he was addicted to drugs. He’d place a cheap digital camera on a table or bookshelf, set the self-timer to take a photo every so often, then turn his attention to the rituals of his habit: filling a crack pipe, cooking heroin, shooting up. Over time, he became more deliberate about lighting and composition, but the point was not to glamorize what had become a solitary existence, the monotonous repetition of an addict’s daily life.
I’m not a casual observer of these images; after Graham and I broke up because of his drug use, I found 342 self-portraits—images that he had not meant for me to see.
“In some way, this is exactly what I’d been curious to see,” I wrote at the time. “All those close-ups of the needle going into a vein, his expression during and after, the rooms and stairwells I never saw … Maybe the point is, ‘So you wanted to see? Here it all is.’ And then we’re supposed to feel sick over our voyeurism, because maybe we didn’t need to see that after all.”