I am amongst that number. After all the bills are paid, I have less than $200 a month left over. Savings? Birthday presents for loved ones? Christmas? A drink with a friend? Retirement? Emergency medical bill? A car tuneup? All of that has to be taken care of with that less than $200 a month. Even though I know that most Americans are in the same place, there is still a deep embarrassment to living paycheck to paycheck. At this age my parents owned a house. We were solidly upper middle class and lived comfortably. I'm 45 and at the opposite of that spectrum.
With "One Dollar At A Time" I'm trying to make some lemonade out of living this way but without all the sugar. That wouldn't be honest to the experience of what I feel on a daily basis: Fear. Shame. Panic at every unplanned expense. Guilt. A general sense of unease that starts every morning and settles into my heart until the moment I fall asleep.
Because I have little to no money, I am using lenses that are handmade from surplus glass elements and dollar bills. The use of dollar bills are both practical, as they roll tightly and hold structure, and symbolic. The 4x5 lithographic film is the cheapest thing I can buy at $12 for 50 sheets. My monthly budget is $30 for everything. Equipment, film, supplies and darkroom rental.
Time will tell how it all falls into place. These initial images are with a single $1 bill, a 90mm achromatic lens I got for $8, and Ilford RC printing paper negatives.