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AFTER

In a world filled with selfies, I did not want to create a year of my life that had anything to do with my physical appearance. It’s not me who I find interesting. It is what is happening around me, the people, forms, lines, and colors that make up my life are where I find inspiration. These 365 photographs create a tapestry of seconds woven together to show a flash of my life.

Why do I take photographs? I found myself coming back to this questions many times over the year. My year of documentation, my year of rebuilding, my year of feeling completely misplaced. I don’t find many of the photographs to be particularly stunning. Yet I do feel I gained skills in observing my surroundings in a much more nuanced way. Though looking back, most of what I see are the thoughts going on inside my head, all that is not captured. But I only remember those moments by looking at the fixed image. Was this an exercise in improving my photography skills or an exercise in opening my eyes to myself? 

I have always been scared to make art because I didn’t know where to start. I don’t have a unique idea or many technical skills. But I continue to document my life, and from there I find inspiration that becomes my projects. Archiving is the catalyst for my creativity and it is important because it is mine.

Taking photographs has been a way for me to capture my life for many years. I photograph because I am scared to forget things. I am scared a beautiful moment will happen and I won’t have proof to remind me it was real. But this year has made me question if taking a photograph helps me to remember or hinders me from experiencing. Am I too worried about remembering, about finding beauty in the mundane, about having a record, that I am actually missing out on my life?

I choose this moment to document my life because I was terrified of what my everyday life would be. I was scared of this new beginning and I needed a reason to find the beauty in the world around me. I understood why I was here, why New York was where I needed to be at this point in my life. I needed some space from Belgium and Belgium needed some space from me, but that didn’t mean my heart wasn’t still there. I needed something concrete to motivate me daily; something to prove in the end that I was still proud of my life.  

When I look at these photographs through the lens of someone who does not know me, honestly, they feel a bit bland. They might get a small peak into the life of a 20 something white girl living in Brooklyn, but that is not anything revolutionary. What I can hope is that they catch a glimpse of themselves somewhere in these photos. Or of their little sister, niece, or best friend. Maybe they feel more connected to the strangers and city around them, knowing that we are all just trying to find our place in this world. Maybe they too know the excitement and terror and sadness and boredom that work together to create a life and understand that any expression of that voice is worth hearing.

When I look at these photographs I see a girl who is running away from heartbreak. A girl who is trying to be strong and independent, while needing the support of her friends and family. I see a girl who is trying to find a job that fulfills her creatively and monetarily. I see a girl who is trying to produce art, even when she doesn’t know how. I see a girl who in her everyday life might not be doing anything grandiose but is trying to carve a place and a purpose for herself in this world. I see a girl who is succeeding.