I was a Facebook holdout, and a self-righteous one at that. I was sure that my world was a cleaner, clearer place because I didn’t muck about with people’s lives online. I saw Facebook as the worst kind of clutter. Did I really need to know that someone I barely remembered from high school had a scratchy throat or loved pork chops? “Be here now,” I’d smugly intone when work colleagues questioned my nonparticipation. So they lay in wait, and when I finally, cautiously, signed on, the almost instant onslaught of friend requests — including those from people I hadn’t thought about for years — left me feeling exposed and vulnerable.
I was also confused. Did these folks really fit my definition of “friend”? Why would they want to read my day-to-day prattle? How did I know them and why should we stay in touch?
Photographer Tanja Hollander asked herself those questions and more. And rather than aimlessly ponder, she’s taken camera in hand and is visiting each of her 626 Facebook friends, removing “virtual” from their relationships and creating a portrait to document the moment. To further personalize their meetings, Hollander uses film and natural light to capture images of her FB friends and their family members in intimate settings — gathered around kitchen tables and lounging on living room sofas. She’s dubbed her efforts “Are You Really My Friend? The Facebook Portrait Project.”
After close to a week of being bed ridden by a nasty cold, I pulled myself together and headed to Portland to shoot my little sister Amanda and her girlfriend Katy. Amanda made me tea and fed me water to fight the good fight, and I basked in the sun in their amazingly light filed apartment. She just moved from Bar Harbor as the long distance thing was becoming tiresome. Lucky for her, she was able to transfer to the Biddeford office of DHHS (she is a child protective worker) and the move has been smooth. And lucky for me and Ma and Pa we get to see her more! Katie is a nurse and was on call, but came back just in time for the shoot. On a side note, it was cool to see a piece that Amanda bought (!!) from me and a beautiful Winky Lewis she got at photo a gogo. I'm making collectors of the whole family.
Then off to Diane and Eddie's for lunch or should I say feast and shoot. I met Diane through the Bakery, like Winky she donates to photo a gogo every year (speaking of which it's that time of year) and Eddie joins her every year for the festivities, although when I ran into him at an opening he didn't recognize me in "street clothes". He is also the chef / owner of the Pepperclub one of Portland's oldest restaurants. The best part of this project is the fact I get to do all the things I love -- eat, drink, travel and see music. But this meal was hands down the best I've ever had on my journeys, not only because Eddie was so excited to cook for me -- I could feel the love and attention, but also because it was so delicious. And he sent me off with a cooler of left overs and other things he made!
When I arrive the table looked like this:
We started off with fish soup made from Mussel broth:
And then salad:
And then mussels and aioli:
And then lobster:
And then crab:
And then cheese & fruit:
Then I somehow managed to not pass out on their couch, and headed an hour southwest to Cornish to photograph and meet for the first time in real life, Alex. I reached out to him on FB because of his work with Portland GreenDrinks in hopes that we could collaborate with them for photo a gogo this year (I guess it's the theme of this post). I have heard his name 'round town for a long time but we haven't ever cross paths. We have been e-mailing for a little bit, so he didn't seem like a total stranger, and it is interesting how you can tell from the tone of messages that you will like the person in real life.
I drove up and down Main St. a couple of times before I gave up and called and it went something like this: "Hi this is Alex. Hi this is Tanja. I think I'm lost. Where are you? At the gas station. Um, you're like 4 houses away. It's on the left the house with" lost connection. And then I just pulled into the driveway of the house I wanted to be his, and it was.
The idea was that I was going to pick his brain about ways to fund and promote the project, we'd do a shoot, and grab a beer. But I was a recovering sick girl and he was recovering from producing and shooting and episode of Food Coma TV in Sanford, so instead we ended up sitting around his kitchen table drinking water and talking for over three hours (a record for me & shoots) about all sorts of things from the youth community center he is building with a focus on organizing and mulit-media, to politics and #ows, to my project and the PMA show, to sex parties and funerals. The 45 minute drive home was definitely a reflective one.
I left Maine very early in the morning to get to Boston in time for my first shoot of the day in Roxbury. Nora is an old friend from Hampshire and part of an arty group that moved right after graduating that have made Boston my 2nd home. She is registrar of the contemporary collection at the MFA and gets to do cool things like escort paintings to Europe. Her husband Allen works in PR for Berklee and started a program to bring kids from Mississippi to study blues and gospel. While hearing all about their cool jobs, I also got to meet their new adorable and very peaceful baby, Nadine and Nora made me delicious coffee and waffles (my favorite, FYI)! I also got a tour of the historical park across the street with incredible views of the city.
Then off to Medford to photograph Doug who I met through the art world in Boston. He is an artist that mergers performance, photography, documentation and his day job in a business / on going project called Environmental Services. Much like his work, the art / home thing go hand in hand. He made me tea and fed me snacks of cheese and salami.
Then off to JP to have dinner with Joe & Katie and the girls, and to grab Katie to go see & photograph Andy aka Astronautalis in his tour van in Allston. I was really excited to shoot Andy for a couple of different reasons- I tend to plan my shoots around my love of music and after I saw his amazing show at Space last month, I was excited to see he was playing in Boston where I had shoots to do. I bought all of the albums and they have been my studio soundtrack as I scan my way through this project. Also, as I travel I am feeling a kinship to other traveling artists. Although, I don't know Andy, he is good friends with my friend Sonya and bleubird who I photographed while he was also in Portland. I really admire his self sufficient crowd not industry supported campaign to produce his music, you can feel his passion. I asked him on twitter if he would be a part of the project and he graciously agreed. (due to technical difficulties I don't have the video uploaded yet ... soon!)