In my last week of college we gave presentations about our work and life goals to a panel of four photographers living and working in the same great city as us. They had a lot of wonderful feedback for me, but one in particular stood out. A well-know photo retoucher looked at me and said, “I can tell that you love to tell stories”, to which I simply responded, “Yes, I really really do”. They went on to talk about my use of words and how I am not just a photographer, but a writer as well. I guess that even though I had always done both, I didn’t realize that I could be both. With school ending and life attempting to begin, I have been struggling with which story to tell next.
Up until this point most of my work has been directly linked to my childhood, which makes since because I have only considered myself an real adult for the past year. With the majority of my life spent being an adolescent, that innocent, doe-eyed frame of mind is still so fresh in my head. And because I am not the biggest fan of adulthood, I tend to cling to the parts of my youth that still make the world seem magical. So I have found myself, yet again, looking to my past for inspiration.
Now, more so than ever, I have become much more aware of the relationships missing from my life. As a kid I wanted siblings for the camaraderie, for someone to pick on and play with. As a teenager I wanted them so I had someone to complain to about my parents, someone to go along with all of my crazy ideas. I always got over it and learned to appreciate my tiny family unit for what it was: two parents who love me unconditionally. However, this lack of relationship has become more apparent now than ever before. I have watched friends and family, who fought which their siblings nonstop, head off to college and suddenly become best friends. I have spent all this time witnessing them become adults and realizing just how much they depend on that one/those few person/people. Admittedly, it is something I am quite jealous of.
As a kid people would constantly tell me how lucky I was to be an only child, that I could have whatever I wanted (a very untrue/agitating stereotype). That stops in adulthood. It has been years since someone has wished away their siblings to me. I do realize that not everybody has these wonderful relationships with their brothers and sisters, but I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by people that do. I grew up observing my mother and her three sisters, trying to understand. That is a huge part of many people’s lives that only children never experience; the relationship of siblings is incredibly hard for me to comprehend: the fighting, the love, is all so very confusing. And like any relationship, it grows, changing and developing with age and the passing of time.
When I was little I played make-believe, pretended I had herds of brothers and sisters running around. Then one day somebody handed me a camera and I became a storyteller. I have since honed these skills, learning how to turn my daydreams into visual representations of my thoughts, a way for others feeling similar things to connect to the world around them.
This project began a few weeks ago, me placing myself into my mothers childhood. I have spent hours at my grandmothers digging through family albums and photographing the places memories took place. I have been placing myself in similar scenes, rewriting both their childhoods and my own. This search has brought me to moments of familial intimacy, and an attempted understanding of a different life experience. These few images are a test run, a natural instinct to years of pretend. They are the beginning of something and I am excited to see how they develop and where they will go.