I have always been an extremely sensitive person. Growing up, my mom would tell me that I wore my heart my sleeve as she wiped the tears from my eyes, trying to explain why I felt so much compared to everyone around me. Despite her love and acceptance I looked at my sensitive nature as a character flaw, something to overcome, something to rid myself of. For years I chastised myself for crying when someone spoke too harshly, or for being too forthcoming with my heart and my trust no matter how many times it had burned me before.
Moving away to the city has been a moving experience all on its own. I feel lonely despite living in a massive, churning sea of people. I see sadness in the eyes of the people I cross paths with on the street. In a world where all we share with one another are the highlights, the peaks, I have always been eager talk about the valleys, to be open about my struggles. I think the things that keep us up at night, the things we tend hide from one another, those are the things that are going to connect us in meaningful ways. We all have vulnerabilities, we all have bad days, we all feel fear, we all grieve, we all cry until we have to wipe the snot from our noses and laugh until we can’t breathe and our sides ache. We all stay up at night, staring at the ceiling, wondering if we’re doing the right thing, if we’re making the right choices. We are all the same yet we keep each other at such a distance. How is the world filled with so many deeply lonely people when love is not a limited resource? I think if we talked more about the heavy things, if we allowed ourselves be vulnerable with one another, if we allowed ourselves to give away little pieces of our hearts, freely and without expecting anything in return, the world would be a kinder more patient place. Share your story, talk about your struggles, inspire others with your dreams, be generous with your love and with your heart. Let your heart beat in the chests of everyone around you, because then you'll never be alone, even in a sea of strangers.
This is an ongoing series of portraits that seek to showcase the subjects vulnerability in an attempt to create not just a meaningful and lasting connection but a love between the viewer and the subject, complete strangers. To get these images, I sat with each subject and talked with them for several hours. I asked them very personal and sometimes extremely difficult questions and photographed them moving through their emotions. I want these images to provoke empathy, relatability, a realization that we are all looking for the same thing; love and happiness. We are all indeed strangers but more than that, we are human.
As your laughter bubbles up from my throat and as my tears fall down your cheeks I can't help but think our greatest secret from one another is that we are all the same.