Our Life is Only Our Own: Photographing People.

It’s been difficult for me to write this article, because I kind of believe it brings my time in Europe to a close. In that closure, I want to share my biggest take away from September 2015 – August 2016.

Our life is really only our own.

We are not forever alone, but we are forever with ourselves. People will enter and leave our lives, but it is only ourselves that remain consistent throughout. We will change and grow and are not fixed beings, and, if we learn to enjoy the changes within ourselves, it is not difficult to be alone.

Below is a collection of photos I took of people that I felt were just with themselves. They had a quality that understood that loneliness and isolation are part of the experience.

 

This is the first photo I took of someone I didn’t know. Her clean, aesthetic and handsome dog stood out to me. She just had an air of someone who knew a lot more about the world than I did. An air of someone who is introspective and contemplative. An air of someone whose thoughts were louder than the wind.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget this woman.

This photo bothers me a bit, you’ll find out why in a second.

This guy stood alone in a sea of people walking down the hallway in Chatelet toward the M7. The fact that he was standing alone appealed to me. Doing something against the grain is incredibly isolating, especially alone.

As I walked passed we made eye contact and he lifted up his hand for a high-five. I kept walking but after about 5 seconds sped around to take his photo. I walked a bit in front of him held up my camera and shot. I went up to thank him, “merci pour le photo”, but instead he said “un bisous?” “Noooo no no no no no” and I started shuffling away. He grabbed me and planted a wet kiss on my lips.

I feel like this photo needs a title:

Le Galleriest at DeZwarte Panter, Just A Man Making His Mark.

Are we as alone if there are more people who think about us? Are we as alone if we have a brass sculpture made of us? Are we as alone if people know who we were long past our death?

I assume that as we get older being is alone is more painful. We don’t seek out new experiences because physically we can’t, and so we rely on our loved ones and turn our lives more inwards. He shared so many stories of his life and family with me. This one story in particular stuck with me.

“As a boy I lived on a farm and had a pet goat. When the Nazi’s invaded Belgium, a Nazi walked by and boom!” He pointed finger guns towards the side of his head and shot. “I loved that goat.”

He was so proud of this piano with its ivory keys.

This is Sami. We met him on our last day in Dubrovnik. He’d been travelling alone for a year or so. We talked with Sami a lot about travelling alone and the ups and downs. Travelling alone pushes you; it forces you to meet new people. However, travelling alone drives in the notion that you are always only with yourself, no one enters and leaves your life more rapidly than when you’re on the road. If you meet someone you think is great, there is a high likelihood you will never meet again.

Srey-Roi and Nicholas, whilst together in a relationship, seemed like they were alone together. They didn’t seem to have any dependency on one another, just love and trust for the other person. They were such amazing hosts because their kindness just fed off of the other persons’. They offered me a book when I left their apartment on Sunday, “we don’t really have anything to offer you from our culture, but here is this little book of French sayings and hopefully it helps you with your French.” Those tiny acts of generosity shatter me. I almost started crying.


Loneliness is part of the life experience, but now anytime I feel alone I think of the little things people have offered me who make me who I am. In that, those people are always with me, and I am never alone.

 

Leah is a designer, a traveller and a Cubs fan. You can check out more of her work and her impressive resume here: LeahBraunstein.com