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Raymond McCrea Jones
New York City (US)
Having just survived a traffic accident, Raymond MacCrea Jones luckily found time to speak about his recent project, the photobook “out of step: faces of straightedge“ that documents the multiple facets of l i v i n g a drugfree life apart from the stagedives, fingerpointings and pile-ons. „out of step“ astonishes with a delicate black-and-white-aesthetic, a diversity of subjects and a rare sense for the exceptional, with which the editor will work his way up to America’s finest photojournalists.

Beginning with the "faces" – book: How did it originate?

Well I got involved in the hardcore scene, like most, as a teenager by going to punk shows and local hardcore shows. Later as my interest in photography grew, photographing those things that were close to me and of interest to me came natural.
As i started the Faces of Straight Edge project as simply another photography project I didn’t set any boundaries or limitations. I told myself I would just start shooting and see what happens. My goal with the project from the beginning was to explore the straight edge community; it’s diversity and the people who make it up. Like most straight edge people, the majority of the subjects I photographed are in one way or another connected to the punk/hardcore music scene. But for this project I wanted to step away from the shows and find out how these people lived. What they do for a living, where they live, what they love doing, whatever it may be. I made a conscious effort to seek out people who were all different from one another, whether that be age, sex, race, religion etc.

Do you see your book as representation of America's straight edge scene?

I definitely do not claim that my book is an accurate cross section of the demographics of the straight edge community but it is an honest look at the people who make up the straight edge community in America. I would have liked to have been able to shoot everyday for several years and make sure I travelled to every state but the reality is that this was a project I had to do in my spare time on my own dollar.
I absolutely sought out the non-traditional straight edge people. It seems kind of crude and superficial of me to think of, but for the sake of efficiency I had to judge people based on what little information I had about them to determine whether they would be a good addition to the book. I couldn’t afford to photograph every single straight edge person I met. I didn’t want to photograph 20 straight edge kids that are in high school and go to shows every Friday night. I’m not saying these people aren’t unique in their own ways but my goal was to satisfy my own curiosity by photographing people who were interesting to me.

How did you get in contact with all these people you've photographed?

Finding a straight edge person isn’t all that hard but when you are looking for specific straight edge people, where each is different from the last, it becomes more challenging.
I started off by photographing the intriguing straight edge people I knew in North Carolina. I talked about the project to anyone who would listen and asked if they knew of anyone I should try to get up with. I made a myspace page to spread the word, too. Through these grassroots efforts I slowly started to build a “buzz” about the project and people began wanted to be involved. The straight edge community is very close knit and that played in my favour. People were into the idea and wanted to help out in any way they could, by handing out fliers, suggesting people for me to photograph, etc.
There were a few people in the book that I knew from the beginning I wanted to photograph so I travelled specifically to shoot them. Other times if I knew that I would be traveling to say Seattle, for instance, I would try to put together a list of people ahead of time that seemed like good leads. Then during my time in that city I would try to photograph as many of them as I could.

One question occurs while skipping through your book. Do you think that straightedge is an idea dependent or independent to hardcore/punk?

This is a very tough question to answer and one that I’ve had many discussions with people about. I believe that straight edge is an independent idea, belief structure, lifestyle, or some may even say, movement. To me, straight edge at its core is an idea; Addiction = Slavery. I choose not to put things into my body that are going to cause me to lose control. I recently went through a very traumatic experience that caused me to spend a week in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital. I almost died and within this experience is the essence of why I’m straight edge. Life is so fucking short and I don’t want miss anything. I don’t want to spend a single instant not fully aware of everything going on around me. My goal is to experience as much of this world I can in my lifetime.
All that being said, straight edge is and always been a close-knit family. Most straight edge people have other straight edge friends. You absolutely don’t have to go to shows or be into hardcore to be straight edge, but most people were at one point. The hardcore/punk scene is most people’s introduction to straight edge.
So, you may ask, what separates a Mormon, who doesn’t smoke, drink or even eat caffeine from a typical straight edge person who abstains from the same things. I believe it’s the consciousness of knowing where straight edge came from and what its all about.
Its something you can’t put your finger on but it’s as simple as knowing what straight edge is and calling oneself straight edge.

Do you have any new projects in the works?

The newest project I’m working on is learning how to be a father. My wife and I just recently found out that we’ll be having a baby early next year. So we’re studying up and researching everything we can. But I am working on a few things here in the New York City area and I have a few ideas for personal projects I would like to start soon. One of the things I hoped this book would afford me is a little more attention from larger publishers that might be interested in funding another book project such as this one. Only time will tell. My passion as a photographer is doing long-term projects like Faces of Straight Edge. But anyone can keep up to date on new projects through my website or blog.

Raymond McCrea Jones
Raymond McCrea Jones

New York City (US)
Photographer/Multimedia Producer

Family and friends, cycling, music, and photography

Life, curiosity, people and photographers like Richard Avedon, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Arnold Newman and contemporaries like Damon Winter and Tyler Hicks

Canon 5D, Hasselblad 501 and a 4x5 view camera