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Golden hour: Photographer’s project to document life on the Golden Gate Bridge spans years

By Itay Hod

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    SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — Step onto the Golden Gate Bridge on any given day, and you might just become the focus of Jake Ricker’s six-year-long obsession.

“On November 2017, I came out here one day just by myself just photographing and I never really left,” he said.

A street photographer, he’s on the bridge every day, capturing life along this iconic landmark.

“Some days it’s like a really, really sad day and some days it’s a really exciting and positive experience. I think that’s what makes it so amazing,” he said.

In the last four years, he’s missed only 20 days, snapping an estimated 100,000 photos.

“There are days where I’m warm in bed and most people have a day off and I do not want to be here, but I show up because that’s what you have to do to do something that you think is great,” he explained.

He takes photographs up to 10 hours a day. But unlike most people, his eyes are not on the bridge itself but what happens on it.

“You have one second to get it right,” he said. “You can never duplicate that situation again, and when you get something out of that, I think it’s way more magical than anything than could be captured in a studio.”

The bulk of his work is done on film, using a compact Leica camera. Over the years, he’s witnessed everything from car crashes, to protests to weddings, and something else this span has sadly become famous for.

“There’s been days when I literally stopped or played a role in stopping three or four people from jumping in one day,” he said.

After repeated delays, the long-awaited suicide prevention barrier has finally been completed. In the last few years, Ricker estimates he’s helped around 90 people, either talking them off the ledge or keeping them distracted long enough for a patrol officer to arrive.

Financially speaking, however, he’s barely surviving, relying on savings and credit cards to fund his project. But so far, he hasn’t been able to monetize it. In fact, he can’t even afford to develop most of his photographs.

Kipton Cronkite is an LA-based art consultant and curator. We asked him to look at some of Ricker’s photos.

“What he’s been able to do is not only capture the activity that’s on the bridge but what happens in our daily lives, and I think it will touch the emotions of anyone who sees it,” he said.

Ricker has no idea whether his project will ever see the light of day. But he’ll cross that bridge when he comes to it.

“If all my financial problems were solved this is still what I would be doing,” he said. “Once I realized that, I just put everything else to the side and did it all day, every day.”

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