Want More

Alex Schneideman
With texts by Paul Dolan and Harry Eyres

‘This is a study of mass consumer excess in which somehow, with all the choice, there is still not quite enough.… Portraying frozen moments in the lives of alienated consumers, it is a timely publication.’ — Irish Times
‘The pictures [reveal] a gap between the fantasy and the lived reality.’ — B+W Photography

Want More is a stark and hard-hitting portrayal of late capitalism in action. In a series of arresting, atmospheric, and strikingly beautiful images, Alex Schneideman captures the alienating and numbing effects of mass consumerism as he photographs shoppers in stores, at the mall, and on the street. Tedium, anxiety, frustration, and exhaustion are the dominant emotions in evidence as his subjects appear ground down by their duty as consumer-citizens to spend, spend, spend. Mostly unaware of the photographer’s lens, these individuals of all ages and backgrounds unwittingly express a collective desire that is both inescapable and universal, one that transcends a specific time and place.

Wherever we look, haunted and desperate faces betray a driven compulsion to consume. Recurring gestures, expressions, and clothes reflect the homogeneity of modern material life. Inconspicuous details – words inscribed on shop fronts and advertisements, the watchful and seductive eyes of models and mannequins, the chance coming together of random elements – contain a hidden logic that reveals further truths about our global consumerist society and the relentless imperative to buy. But amidst these scenes of joyless alienation there remains the potential for human love and beauty.

A foreword by behavioural scientist Paul Dola­­­n considers the photographs as evidence of the old adage that money cannot buy us happiness, while writer Harry Eyres celebrates the photographer’s gift for serendipity and his use of dark, ironic humour to examine the effects of constantly wanting more.

Positioned somewhere between documentary and art photography, Want More confronts us with the lived reality of the ‘have-it-all’ culture – of needing the latest products and coolest brands – and shows how the contemporary world works, and works on all of us. 

Alex Schneideman is a London-based photographer and a specialist photographic printer for artists and galleries around the world. Beginning his career in advertising photography, he soon moved into documentary and portraiture. His work has been exhibited in several solo and group shows in the UK, Asia and the US. He has produced two books of his photography, Hardlight (2011) and Skin (2012). He is a visiting lecturer in photography and fine-art printing at various colleges and is founding editor of Smack, a quarterly print magazine dedicated to art and human experience.

Paul Dolan is Professor of Behavioural Science at London School of Economics and Political Science, a world-leading thinker of the science of happiness, and adviser to the UK government on well-being. He has held academic posts at York, Newcastle, Sheffield and Imperial and he has been a visiting scholar at Princeton University. He is the author of Happiness by Design: Finding Pleasure and Purpose in Everyday Life (Penguin, 2014), with a foreword by Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman, and was awarded the Philip Leverhulme Prize in Economics for his contribution to health economics.

Harry Eyres is a journalist, writer and poet. He was a theatre critic and arts writer for The Times from 1987 to 1993, the wine editor of Harpers & Queen from 1989 to 1996, and the wine columnist for the Spectator magazine from 1984 to 1989. He was Poetry Editor of the Daily Express from 1996 to 2001. For eleven years until 2015, he wrote a weekly column for the Financial Times, titled ‘Slow Lane’, which celebrated the more enduring, often uncosted and uncostly, pleasures and pursuits of the truly well-lived life. He is the author of Horace and Me: Life Lessons from an Ancient Poet (Bloomsbury, 2013) and Beginner’s Guide to Plato’s The Republic (Hodder & Stoughton, 2001).