Originally posted in the Maine Sunday Telegram:
Photographer Tanja Alexia Hollander is on a good old-fashioned portrait kick, but she's taking her subjects from a thoroughly modern pool.
In 2009, contemporary Maine photographer Tanja Alexia Hollander took up residency in France. She knew at the time that she had exhausted her pursuit of landscape photography. The body of work that propelled her to an international career -- infinity-filled images of distant horizons that blur the demarcation between land, sea and air -- was behind her.
Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer
From “Are You Really My Friend: The Facebook Portrait Project” by Tanja Alexia Hollander: Angela Dufresne with Larry the dog, Brooklyn, N.Y. ...
Tanja Alexia Hollander photo/Courtesy of the artist
She didn't know what was next, and used her time in France to play and explore. She made a lot of photographs of people in their homes, and when she returned to the United States, she pursued the theme from her base in Auburn. She was renovating her house at the time, and felt bound to her domicile both practically and emotionally.
On New Year's Day 2010, Hollander made a list of things important to her, including travel, home and friendship. When not working on her home, Hollander made portraits of her closest friends and acquaintances. The transformation from landscape photographer to portrait artist had begun. In the fall, she mounted an exhibition of her work.
Some people liked it. Others, not so much.
"There was a lot of, 'I don't know why I should care about your friends,' " Hollander says. "But I knew there was something there. I just didn't articulate it very well."
On New Year's Day 2011, it clicked.
Simultaneously, she was engaged in a live Facebook chat with a friend in India while writing a letter to another friend deployed in Afghanistan. The experience made her think about the intangible and sometimes miraculous nature of friendship. We can't touch it, but we know when it is real. It can survive time and distance, and is capable of sparking up in unexpected ways.Read and see more