Call it a marshal art project.
Cobble Hill photographer Brian Finke spent three-and-a-half years following members of the United States Marshal Service on the job, snapping photos of the law enforcement agency tasked with rounding up some of the country’s most dangerous fugitives. Now the shutterbug is releasing his images as a book, titled “U.S. Marshals,” which he will launch at PowerHouse Arena in Dumbo on Nov. 21.
During the years he spent shooting for the project on and off, Finke had the opportunity to do ride-alongs with on-duty marshals as they located fugitives, laid in wait, and ensared their marks. A lot of that time was spent sitting in the back of a sports utility vehicle, he said, but after the waiting came moments of intense action, with Finke following right behind the marshals as they charged into danger, guns drawn.
“It was awesome,” said Finke. “It was real adrenaline junkie stuff.”
Finke worked on the project in between other freelance work, and had the chance to photograph marshals in cities across the country. In Los Angeles, Finke said he witnessed marshals busting down a door to arrest a woman wanted for human trafficking. In Las Vegas, he snapped away as marshals rounded up wanted sex offenders. And in the border region around Brownsville, Texas, he tagged along as the marshals intercepted a pair of fugitive brothers hightailing it to Mexico.
But through it all, Finke said he was never worried about getting hurt.
“I never felt like my life was in danger” he said. “They are very good at what they do.”
Finke has done several other projects with a tunnel vision focus on one industry. He has previously profiled flight attendants, bodybuilders, construction workers, football players, and cheerleaders. “U.S. Marshals” provided Finke with an opportunity for another singularly-focused project — this time with even more guns than his bodybuilder series.
“I like being very obsessive about one thing and exhausting it over the period of a few years,” Finke said.
At the book launch, Finke will be joined by his friend Cameron Welch, who is also a marshal. The photographer said he first got the idea for “U.S. Marshals” after reconnecting with Welch in his hometown of Houston. His pal had recently transitioned from the military to the Marshal Service, and it was through Welch that Finke first started to eye the lawmen and women as potential subjects for his next project.
“I had always wanted to do a story about how we enforce ourselves as a country,” he said. “The marshals seemed pretty badass, just going out there and getting the bad guys.”
Brian Finke and “U.S. Marshals” at PowerHouse Arena [37 Main St. between Water and Front streets in Dumbo, (718) 666–3049, www.powerhousearena.com]. Nov. 21 at 7 pm. Free.