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On Having A Human Face

People always ask me why I photograph my friends. The question falls into the same realm as a question like, "Why do you wake up every morning?"
Photographing my friends is a natural part of my everyday existence, just like eating or breathing. It is almost an instinctual response. My camera is the machine that creates my physical memory, the window through which I see "real life." My brain can twist things around, exaggerate emotions or fade a moment out of existence. But the camera allows me to see things exactly as they were, recalling sounds, smell or conversations.

If you asked me what I learned in college, I wouldn't remember how to solve a math problem. But I would remember that I learned about being on my own and about forming a family with the people I'm surrounded by. My work is about these relationships and the ever-changing positions that people can have in one person's life. I am not absent from these photos. My subjects stare back at me, my closeness to them varies. These images become as much about my relationships with these people as about them as individuals. Their experiences are as much a part of me as my own experiences. Together, we have survived rape, rehab, divorce, and alcoholic fathers. We have all had our personal victories and reveled in the moments where we come out okay. My friend Jeffrey once said that there are "those moments when you realize that everyone around you, including yourself, is a hypocrite, but for some strange reason, there is hope." I found this statement overwhelmingly true, as we all wander around in our awkward age of early 20s,

contradicting ourselves and struggling to find
answers when sometimes we are not even sure of the questions. I see this same battle in my photographs. At times, these images represent a moment of clarity. Other times, things aren't so clear, thoughts become cloudy, our vision is blurred and out of focus, just as we don't always know what to think, what to say, or where we are going.

The issues that plague our generation become real and individual through these people. The pop culture images that are thrown around about our generation are not always accurate and can result in careless stereotypes. I want to portray my friends, my generation, in my own visual language as something real, in raw moments of vulnerability and strength.

I see this work not as a project with a beginning and an end, but as a life-long endeavor. It will never be complete. The faces may change, the scenery will change. But my memory of these real life moments will always remain the same.

-Andrea Bauer


Andrea Bauer

Andrea Bauer graduated in May 1999 from the University of Iowa with bachelor's degrees in art and journalism. Andrea was a photographer for Iowa City's morning newspaper, The Daily Iowan. A recipient of the Fuji-Film Scholarship Award, she participated in the NPPA Women in Photojournalism Conference in Albany, N.Y. Andrea currently lives in Glenwood, Ill., where she continues to do freelance photography and independent projects.

Drop Andrea a line at RNBauer@webtv.net.