I’ve been single more often than not for most of my life. People would ask what was wrong with me. Why was I still single? Why hadn’t I married yet? I didn’t know where to begin with an explanation, and dating ended up feeling worse than not looking. So I settled into being single—to learn whom I was without a partner and how to be whole on my own.
I started asking other single people how they navigated this territory. Did they define themselves as a presence or an absence—and did I? Are we searching for connection, and would we still feel a lack if we ended up partnered? Is it enough to see ourselves by ourselves, or must there be an “other” to reflect a version back? Is romantic love even a necessary part of human experience?
These images are fragments, momentary glimpses into a solitary phase of the greater narrative of relationships in each subject’s life. More than fifty people let me photograph and interview them for this project. We planned the portraits together around one question that opened up all the rest: “Where do you feel the most single?”
For years, I’d been making emotional self-portraits that I thought proved I was open and vulnerable, but I’d never been as open with another person as I had been with the camera. I only saw myself. Working with others on these portraits—while contemplating what we’re willing to give and what we hold back—was an exercise in revelation and compromise. I couldn’t ask someone to tell me their hopes, fears, and insecurities without telling mine in return. Fifty times over, I laid myself bare. I hoped for reciprocation but let go of the results. Giving up control over this process allowed us to offer something to each other and to create unexpected work together.