In my photography course for the spring semester of my junior year, students were required to pick one project to work on throughout the entire year. Below is an extended version of my project statement for the photographs I plan to create in the coming semester.
Without initially realizing it, I have spent a good part of my past year documenting scenes that carry the essence of Girlhood with them. As I look to enter the final year of my collegiate career I think more about the experiences of the girl I was, am, and the one I hope to be and how that compares and contrasts with the fellow girls around me.
My final photography projects of my sophomore year contained themes similar to Girlhood despite not having consciously chosen this direction yet. They worked to represent a collection of memories specific to young females and to explore the differences between platonic and romantic relationships.
Despite moving across the world for the beginning of my junior year of college, I continued to see this theme of Girlhood poking through in all the art I created. From writing about the more feminine aspects of being a girl that I felt disconnected from for so long, to orchestrating a photoshoot with my roommates to visually document the reality of life in your 20’s.
I wanted to continue doing this deep dive of exploration into the reality of specifically being in your 20’s because it is the period of life I am in right now, but also because there is something so rare and existential about this particular time period. It’s the only decade in which I’ll start it eating microwaved potatoes from my dorm room for dinner every night and end it by fielding assumptions and opinions about needing to settle down and have children.
While I want my overall semester-long project to share the same themes and have a coherent conversation, I am working on mini projects within it. There are so many different aspects and things to explore within the concept of Girlhood, and I believe the best way to attempt to capture all of it is through serial work. These smaller projects will be able to speak on their own to certain tales of Girlhood but when put together make a full and cohesive story. As if you had read five different stories, and while reading the sixth story you begin to realize that all the stories were connected the whole time.
A majority of the work I have done in the past focuses predominantly on an action happening. My journey with photography started with sports, so it only seems natural that action is my proclivity. However, this work with Girlhood aims to put the subject herself as the main idea of the photographs.
Having a subject as the center means that the complete essence of my model must be able to communicate an entire conversation and represent intricate details about what Girlhood is by herself. The subject must not seem too confident, but also not outwardly insecure in fear of displaying as weak. She must be dressed properly, something unique to herself but that also doesn’t stand out too much. She must have her armor, the thing that makes a girl feel more comfortable, whether that be a favorite piece of jewelry, headphones, or any other tangible or intangible item. I am not trying to make the model in these pictures look or feel urethral and perfect, I am trying to make her feel like an adequate representation of each one of us.
Beyond the importance of the subject, I want the photos to seem almost dreamline and have a playful nature to them even when discussing hard topics. This idea can be seen throughout many coming of age movies that deal with hard topics but still romanticize the scenes through aesthetics. Although a lot of these photography stories are things that might make one uncomfortable, sad, or anxious, they are also very categorical and special things. Similar to the juvenile and infinite feeling you get when looking back after years have passed on your first heartbreak. No matter how upset you were in the moment, there is a pang of nostalgia, because those previous feelings and emotions were something that could have only come from girlhood, and that is inherently special.
Overall, I am striving to explore three broad ideas within the category of Girlhood: the relationship girls have with themselves, with others, and with growing up. This will translate to ideas of being able to feel content spending time alone, intricate ideas about friendships and relationships and what time spent together feels like, and the process of slowly letting go of things our childhood selves held near and trying new, more ‘grown-up’ things.
I am delighted to be fully concentrating on a project such as Girlhood that has been permeating my mind for a long time now, and I’m excited to see where the project will end up going.
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