My name is Mathilde (she/her) and I’m a senior in high school. Starting at a young age, I’ve documented my life from behind a lens. As someone who moved around a lot as a kid, photos and videos are what helped me define who I was.
I think my work has come a long way from pictures of my couch with a toy camera, exploring themes like identity, community, and city life, and I hope to continue using photography as a way to share my story and learn about others.
The photography space is often not kind to women, to people of color, to anyone who doesn’t have thousands of dollars to spend on equipment - but we deserve to tell our stories as much as anyone else. In fact, I think it is crucial for us to share our photos and our lives - it is a way for us to carve a space for ourselves and show others they can too.
As I worked on my portfolio for the Creative Cohort, I found that my photos represented a desire to tell peoples’ stories, to tell my own story, and to blend those together to share a narrative of community. What could I learn about my life through the lens of a camera, and how can I share it with the world? I think oftentimes I have felt like I was too much or too complicated for other people to try understanding, and with photography I can affirm others' stories and prove that complexity is not a negative thing. That’s why I love taking photos in the city, of the city, and of people. There’s so much to tell with one frame.
The theme of this project is the City and Me. I wanted to put together photos I’ve taken in the past few months, and represent myself and my artistry authentically. I found a common pattern in my photos - the city. The buildings, the portrait shoot of my friend taken at an art museum in Capitol Hill, and the self portrait/portrait of my sibling that evokes imagery of neon signs on a busy street. To be honest, I struggled with putting together a cohesive collection of photos. I found the prevailing common factor was the location and its sentimental value in my work. I feel most comfortable when I’m out on the street taking photos, or taking photos of my friends out and about town.
For this project, I started out wanting to capture the most important parts of my life - my family, music, and the city I live in.
As I took photos, there was a feeling of solace and quiet that appeared in the collection. I edited my photos to all be black-and-white — there is a type of intimacy in using B&W photography that allows you to focus closer on the feeling rather than the colors or editing.
I wanted to start with Heritage. It is often difficult to feel like I have a place as someone who is mixed race, who carries an identity that feels fragmented between cultures, borders, and language. But I find myself and my heritage reflected in my younger sibling, and it reminds me that I am not alone in that feeling, as well as there are so many mixed people in the world who can relate. Me and my sibling both have freckles but tan skin and dark hair, a combination of traits inherited from both sides of our family, but unique only to us.
Another part of my life is Music. The piano is where my family would play music together and now where I play my own music; I wanted to capture that feeling of both past and present.
I used a long exposure to create a purposeful blur, one that evokes imagery of memory and the past. It reminds me that while I might not always be physically present on that piano bench, there is always going to be a part of me that is.
And finally, the City. When I’m not with my family, I’m probably in the city. My school is in a very busy area, and I also like to explore on my own or with friends. I took photos with the guiding question of how to make one of the busiest and most vibrant neighborhoods in Seattle feel quiet, almost like you’re the only person in the world. The city has an uncanny ability to make you feel a part of a community and alone at the same time, and I wanted to capture that.
As I took, edited, and put together these photos, it helped me develop my goals for what I want to do with my photography - build an understanding of myself and my connection with the world, and to share it with others.
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