The body of work is a collection of black and white portraits taken at the conclusion of each first date. Over a two-month period I went on a total of 17 first dates, 11 of which allowed me to take their portrait and 11 that resulted in follow up dates.
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The aim for my project was to document my experience with Tinder, a dating app famous for it’s hook-up culture. I wanted to tell my story, the people I met, and the adventures we went on. The body of work is a collection of black and white portraits taken at the conclusion of each first date. Over a two-month period I went on a total of 17 first dates, 11 of which allowed me to take their portrait and 11 that resulted in follow up dates.
I wanted to approach the project with a level of honesty that opened me up to the possibility of experiencing a genuine connection with the people I was dating. I believe the resulting portraits are a reflection of a number of factors; the dynamic between myself and the person I was photographing, how much I had to drink throughout the course of the date, how tired I was and my level of attraction both physically and mentally.
Initially I intended to inform each person of my project before the date but found I had a much higher success rate explaining the project in person. I never pressured anyone into having their photo taken, accepting their decision as final. The most common concern was that of being objectified. Most people wanted me to confirm my interest in them as a person and not simply as an art project. In this way, I saw it as a swapping of traditional gender roles – posing the question that perhaps men and women aren’t all that different? Perhaps the stereotype is a reaction to the dynamic imposed upon women by a male dominated society. Change the power dynamic however and you achieve the same result.
I also felt that the decision to allow me to take their portrait was a direct reflection of their level of self-esteem. Those with high self-esteem felt confident with their identity and appearance as an individual and had no issue being compared to others within a larger body of work.
Dealing with my own emotions and the emotions of 17 others in such a short period of time was exhausting. At the conclusion of the project, I experienced what I referred to as ‘Tinder Hangover’ and although I believe the app to be a great way to meet people in a modern world where time is such a precious commodity, I am happy to no longer be an active member of the Tinder community.
In an unexpected but positive turn of events, several people uploaded their portraits to their Tinder profiles and have reported a significant increase in their Tinder success. I am happy to have been a part of this process and grateful to everyone involved for their open mindedness.
* Initially I was only going to include the portraits from the people who let me photograph them but I felt that it didn’t tell the full story or represent the scope of the project. I also felt that by including the avatars, I was linking the project back to the anonymity of the online world.
“See…the flash is making my boys nervous, they are worried you might be cops.”
For my second instalment of my ongoing project…Into The Night – which documents an old New York that lives on after dark…I headed to Washington Heights. I took my friend Juan to act as my co pilot/body guard/translator/talent/super hero. Juan made the introductions in Spanish while I stood there looking pretty – camera poised ready to fire.
You never know how people are going to react to being photographed. While some people embrace the opportunity, others take offence. While there is almost nothing I wouldn’t do for a great photo I would also prefer not to get beaten/stabbed/shot and if I get mugged and lose my camera then the whole exercise is pointless. Knowing all of this still doesn’t change the fact…there is almost nothing I wouldn’t do for a photo opportunity. With this in mind, it is in my best interest to have Juan along to act as the voice of reason and asses the possible risk of heading down that block or jumping into that car. I am clearly my own worst enemy.
At one point during the night, we approached a block with a younger crew. We had been shooting some of the older guys playing dominos on the street. I felt the reception had been warm and a few people even asked to have their photo taken. But this felt different. I made the decision going into the project to shoot the body of work with flash because stylistically it is aggressive and revealing and in my opinion – a perfect match for the streets of New York. It also attracts a lot of attention and I hadn’t considered that as a result, I might be mistaken for police. One of the younger guys approached us. “No disrespect” he said “…but what are you photographing?” Juan explained the project while I offered my business card as a sign of my legitimacy. He nodded. “See…the flash is making my boys nervous, they are worried you might be cops.” We explained we had been photographing some of the guys playing Dominos down the block. He nodded again. “See…those guys are old school – they’re actually playing Dominos. Our games are just a front to sell drugs.” Juan and I nodded in understanding. I couldn’t believe he had been so upfront with us. If I had been a cop – he had just ratted out the entire operation. We agreed to head in a different direction but asked him if I could take his photo. He agreed. I took his photo and he told me he lived in the shelter around the corner…. “23 and doing it tough” he said. I nodded in agreement.
As the night went on, word got out that I might be a famous photographer. People rolled around in cars asking for my details – wanting to work with me, asking if I shoot bikini girls, could I photograph their nieces christening? One guy told me he had an idea for a movie. I handed him my business card…not sure how I was going to make his movie a reality but happy to oblige.
The night ended with Juan scaling a fence in an attempt at walking the Washington Heights Bridge and getting caught by the cops. They informed us we were trespassing and suggested with the current state of terrorism it would be advisable if we moved on. With those words of warning, we decided it might be time to head home.
It was truly an adventure ….Into the Night. Thanks to Juan for for killing it as my co-pilot and delivering me and my camera home safe and sound.
Julatten is a magical place where magical people live…I am sure of it.
Being an introvert…I am particular about who I spend my time with. As a result…I feel like I form closer friendships. My friends are my chosen family and I offer them the loyalty I expect in return.
Raine is one of my people. You always want your people to choose partners who will help them be the best versions of themselves. Raine chose Eli and now Eli is one of my people…I love him almost as much as Raine. It’s refreshing to meet someone who’s ego matches my own.
Raine & Eli are the friends who don’t run from the hard stuff. They are there for me…always. Earlier this year – I spent a week with them and they took me to Julatten in the Cairns hinterland in Australia where Eli’s mum – Sally lives. Julatten is a magical place where magical people live…I am sure of it.
Thank you to Sally and her family of dogs who welcomed me into their home. I can’t wait to go back.