Chris Arnade holds a Ph.D. in physics from Johns Hopkins University, and from 1992-2012 he traded stocks on Wall Street. However, he left the financial sector last year in order to photograph the gritty lives of New York City drug addicts.

Arnade penned an op-ed for The Guardian on Sunday comparing his past profession with his new endeavor. The narrative contrasts the circumstances of a rich commodities trader nicknamed “Mr. one-glove” with those of Takeesha, a prostitute and drug addict.

“Yes, it is like comparing apples and oranges,” Arnade wrote. “That is the point though. We have built two very different societies with two very different sets of values. … Mr. one-glove would probably not approve of Takeesha. He felt everyone makes his own path in life, that raising his taxes to help the poor was encouraging a lifetime of sloth. To him, poverty was because of a lack of trying, a lack of working as hard as he had. Many successful professionals, who forget their benign youth, share that attitude.”

Arnade’s photography regularly appears on the Scientific American’s White Noise blog, which explores the science of drug addition.