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There is a freedom in outward expression. Amplified by the year spent indoors hiding from a deadly virus, freedom, beginning in the Spring of 2021, took on a distinctive aura: a bold, colorful one. There was a vibrancy, a specific mix of joy, defiance, morality, kindness, and a bit of despair, that I like to think was tinged with hope. Underneath the dyed hair and accessories, tattoos, and thigh high boots, stands someone’s son, someone’s daughter, a human with hopes and vulnerabilities.

While we’re all trying to find our way in the world, the beauty of these people is in their self-expression. The people here seem to unabashedly bare and present themselves to the world. They tell their truth and what could be more beautiful?

What ultimately propels me to ask, “Can I take your portrait?” is a warmth I sense, something soft underneath the shell. Taking these portraits, I get inside, even if only for a short while. Interacting with these individuals, with their persistent youthful energy, I find myself both stimulated and grounded.

Perhaps these young people can sense I’m a mother, allowing them ease and comfort when interacting with me. On one occasion, a young person asked me for a band aid, perhaps rightly pegging me as a “nurturer.” Maybe that’s why most comply when I ask for a portrait. I’ve raised three children, now adults, in the homogenous New Jersey suburbs. Individuality and distinctiveness were a rarity there and perhaps that’s why I now document those on the cusp of adulthood in New York City, one of the most culturally diverse in the nation.

One of the more interesting things I’ve found is how quickly a connection can be formed between two strangers, with the camera’s lens serving as a conduit. So, when I begin shooting, I direct people by saying, “Okay, look in my eyes, and whatever you do, don’t smile.” Oddly, these words seem to put people at ease.




Nikon Z7


street, documentary