What happens when you take away someone’s lifeline?

Eric Pickersgill did just that in his portraits of regular people in regular scenarios – without their phones or tablets. ‘I ask them to hold their stare and pose while I take away their devices,’ explains the American photographer.

The result is Removed, a series of photos that remind viewers how strange that pose actually is.

In each portrait, electronic devices have been edited out so that people stare at their hands, or the empty space between their hands, often ignoring beautiful surroundings or opportunities for human connection.

The results are a bit sad and eerie—and a reminder, perhaps, to sometimes put our phones away.