mobile-bannertablet-bannerdesktop-banner
8 March  2014 - Tent City, Lakewood, New Jersey - Inside Tent City's chapel, "Uncle Mike"  dances salsa with Eve.
"Uncle Mike" dances salsa with Eve inside Tent City's chapel, March 8, 2014.Christopher Occhicone
8 March  2014 - Tent City, Lakewood, New Jersey - Inside Tent City's chapel, "Uncle Mike"  dances salsa with Eve.
3 March  2014 - Tent City, Lakewood, New Jersey - Residents watch the latest batman film on DVD pwered by a generator. - Christopher Occhicone
20  March  2014 - Tent City, Lakewood, New Jersey - A piano in a makeshift courtyard.
9 April   2014 - Tent City, Lakewood, New Jersey -Eve tries to feed her husband Chris. After a night of partying he is too sick to eat.
16  March  2014 - Tent City, Lakewood, New Jersey - Andrew is upset his pregenat fiance' Samantha is talking about her ex-husband and her 5 children who had been taken away by social services. Eve takes Andrew's side, believing it is disrectful to her man to talk about past relationships. .
16 March 2014 - Tent City, Lakewood, New Jersey -  Eve shows off letters between her and Chris while Chris was in prison for assualting her.
14  March  2014 - Tent City, Lakewood, New Jersey - Inside Tent City's chapel, Chris consoles his wife Eve after an argument.
7 April   2014 - Tent City, Lakewood, New Jersey - The camp begins approximately 100 meters from a busy county road.
8 March  2014 - Tent City, Lakewood, New Jersey - Rev. Steve, the self-appointed spokesperson for Tent City, heads to the chapel while Eve and Arek star gaze around the fire.
6 April   2014 - Tent City, Lakewood, New Jersey - Afarid to sleep in their tent after a fire killed another resident, Chris and Eve decide it is safer to stay in Tent City's chapel.
24 April  2014 - Tent City, Lakewood, New Jersey - Francine consoles Eve who has just found out she is pregnent, several days after her husband Chris abandoned her.
"Uncle Mike" dances salsa with Eve inside Tent City's chapel, March 8, 2014.
Christopher Occhicone
1 of 11

On the Fringe of Society with Christopher Occhicone

May 15, 2015

Photographer Christopher Occhicone spent months following a group of addicts who live on the outskirts of Lakewood, N.J., in a tent city in the forest. The result is his long-term project titled Fringe. “They live outside the boundaries of social norms," he writes in his introduction to the series. "Their food and clothing needs are satisfied through donations. Their drug and alcohol needs are met by cash gotten from odd jobs, petty crime, sympathetic relatives, and social security and disability payments.”

Today, the camp is gone. Promoters acquired the land it used to sit on, buying out its former occupants. But, in 2013, when a group of 15 to 20 people still lived in tents and makeshift home, Occhicone documented their everyday lives.

“It took time to get the access,” he says. “In the eight months I spent there, I really shot a lot for four months. The first two months, I was just hanging around, talking to people and not taking any pictures. I wanted to get to know the guys.” That also meant eating and drinking with them. “They invite you to eat, you eat. They offer you a beer, you have a beer,” he says. “Obviously, there are certain lines you don’t cross, certain things you get offered that you don’t accept.”

Quickly, two main characters appeared in Occhicone’s work: Chris and Eve. The married couple, featured in many of the New Jersey-based photographer’s work, had a turbulent relationship. “She was a 30-year-old alcoholic, and he was only 19,” he says. “And it felt like he thought he was in a summer camp. I don’t think he realized what he was doing. They would call the cops on each other all the time.”

Now, with the camp dismantled, Occhicone’s work is done. “I think I said what I wanted to say,” he tells TIME.

Christopher Occhicone is a New Jersey-based freelance photographer.

TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.