Brieanne
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Henri
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This
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Ylvie
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Ylvie
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AJ
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AJ
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She
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Shane2
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Affinity

Since arising into adulthood I have found myself seeking Affinity: a bond, a common ground, a relationship, a connection with anyone who is willing to share it with me. I believe we all want to be wanted and I have found myself desperately wanting to feel wanted, needed, loved, invited and thought of. I want to have the light shine back through me like it used to before all of the mental abuse, shaming and continuous criticisms. 

 

During the making of Affinity and the process of photographing my subjects, I decided to create a space that allowed for vulnerability and the ability for my subjects to open up to me. I was brutally straight forward with my subjects. I didn’t create small talk, there was no tiptoeing around feelings or comfort, there was none of the bullshit that comes with society's idealism. I simply asked them to sit in front of the camera and took my time soaking in their presence, quietly seeing what they would do, and when it felt right I would break the silence with ‘It’s time to get real. Can you do that?’ and all of a sudden these strangers, sitting in front of a daunting 8x10 camera in an unfamiliar studio were completely opening up to me. 

They began peeling back their layers and talking to me about their abortions, abuse they have endured, and the forced immigration they encountered in their young lives. Discussing some of the most difficult and private things they have ever experienced, and for some, it was the first time ever saying it out loud. 

 

At the time I didn’t realize, but looking back now, I feel that in a way I was really projecting myself onto my subjects. Watching them unfold and let their guard down and allow others to see them was something I always wished I had the guts to do. Maybe if I was put on the spot, the same way my subjects were, then I’d find myself with an opportunity to shed the weight of hiding and sharing a true side of myself with someone else with pride. 

 

These portraits, although hold many different faces, are a form of self-expression. I have found Affinity within their stories and discovering that I am not alone. We have all experienced something that bruises our inner child and makes us hesitant to trust and to let love in. It tests our strengths and weaknesses and I believe, if we allow it, it can mould us into sympathetic, strong individuals who can be the voices for the voiceless, the strong for the weak and maybe make a difference in the lives of others.