Osceola Refetoff

Winning bodies of work

As a photographer and photojournalist, my primary interest lies in documenting the intersection of nature and human development, and the narratives of the people living at those crossroads. Much of my focus is on the remnants and future of human activity across the deserts of the American West. In this portfolio, It’s a Mess Without You, I explore the real tragedy of abandoned dreams, loss, absence, and obsolescence, juxtaposed against the stoically majestic terrain of the region. In all my work, I strive to speak to the scale of the individual viewer and provide a human perspective on the places portrayed. Here, the window operates not only as a literal/architectural subject, but also an optical/aesthetic and narrative/symbolic device to frame the story of these desert landscapes and document the derelict structures that are tenuous monuments to our ongoing interaction with arid lands. The photographs were initially featured on High & Dry — my long-term, writer-photographer collaboration with author and film historian Christopher Langley, and a regular feature on KCET’s multi-platform program Artbound (PBS/Public Broadcasting Service, Southern California), amongst other venues. This December, I received the Los Angeles Press Club National Photojournalist of the Year award for work on this ongoing project. NOTE: all photographs are single exposures (NOT Photoshop composites).

It’s a Mess Without You