The modern family, whether it’s the one you’re born into or the one you choose for yourself, is scattered across the world. Politics, ambition and wanderlust have sent us far and wide, the internet and video technology have kept us together. Families are staying in touch with each other in Whatsapp groups, babies are growing up knowing their grandparents through iPad screens, best friends, like long distance couples, are sharing their lives via FaceTime. It’s not perfect, but through the pixelation, the dropped connections and time differences, we persevere.
In the spirit of staying connected with loved ones and being part of a project that could only exist in the age we live in now, we asked photographers who we follow on Instagram to ‘photograph’ a friend or family member in another city via screenshot.
In doing so they also prompt questions about the role of photographer and what this means today. Each image produced is an inevitable collaboration between subject and photographer. Considering this, we present the final images along with digital correspondence between the two, and excerpts from the emails we were sent in the process of the project.
You’re invited to continue the story by sharing your video chat portraits online with the hashtag #casimirvirtualportraits.
“One of my dearest friends, Danielle Hitchcock, lives in Berlin. We Skype and WhatsApp a lot to keep in touch.¬†We both have busy lives but we had a moment to Skype today and had so much fun shooting this!¬†I wanted to keep the portrait quite dark, moody and simple to emphasise her¬†beautiful blue eyes and I love how the low quality of the photo almost makes it look like a textured painting.”
Anke Loots¬†– Cape Town
“I may have a special idea for this project. I am going to record and screenshot photograph my little sister telling my dad she is pregnant. Should be pretty awesome!”
“So‚Ä¶that was quite an experience.”
Shaugn Crawford¬†– Los Angeles
“Attached is a portrait of my homie Von (@vongogh), he is also an artist.”
Flo Ngala¬†– New York City
“My partner and I have been in a long distance relationship for the past 4 years. Thankfully we get to visit each other often, but I often think about the way our ‘digital’ relationship has affected us.”
“My concept for the image was to allow my collaborative partner to direct me throughout my own studio via Skype. I gave complete control to my partner and let him frame and stage the entire image, so it became a collaborative self portrait.”
Allison Morris¬†- Toronto
“I did a call with my cousin and her daughter ~ for a mom and daughter shoot.”
Baljit Singh – Toronto
“A portrait of Diana, my best friend who is based in Helsinki, and 3 screen shots of our mini correspondence. The only thing is it’s in Russian…”
Ekaterina Bazhenova-Yamasaki¬†- London
“I saw this as a way of representing simplicity and fragility of existence, using no set up and make up, only resorting to the use of two props, a book and a mobile phone. I wanted to capture a sort of everydayness with the images, moments that we grasp ourselves as humans, contemplate our own being or random things we do for our sense of self and presence.”
Thandiwe Gula-Ndebele¬†– Cape Town
“It’s quite a coincidence actually, because I’ve been collecting Skype portraits of the people I chat to for the last few years. I have quite a big collection now. Rather than posed portraits, they are stolen moments during conversations. The portrait is of my sister in Lebanon while I’m in London. She’s in a coastal part of the country in a little valley, hence the pixelated outcome…”
Rasha Kahil¬†– London