Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is set to earn billions by today’s end, with the company’s launch of its IPO. So as our friend counts continue to grow, one photographer, Tanja Alexia Hollander, set out to find just how many of her FB friends are actual friends. With her FB friend list set at 626 friends (it’s grown higher since), Hollander decided to meet face-to-face with each of her contacts and photograph them through a series of environmental portraits called “Are you really my friend? The Facebook Portrait Project.”
Samantha Appleton, Washington, D.C.
Hollander was inspired to explore the idea of friendship in the digital age one day when she was writing an old-fashioned, snail-mail letter while also IM’ing with a friend. She began in February of 2011 and to date has photographed 251 “friends”, including former lovers, distant acquaintances and a few people she had never actually met (some of whom she now calls friends).
Mary Bok with Surely & Honey the dogs, Camden, Maine
Not quite halfway through her project, Hollander, who quit her full-time paralegal job to pursue the project, is almost out of funding. She has had good luck with gallery and museum interest but is now searching for ways to continue with other expenses, such as travel overseas, to continue the portraits. She’s based in Maine, and her furthest travel to date has been California.
Alicia Sindel Vega, Juan Pablo & Sofia Vega, Clayton, Missouri
Hollander says working on the project has really shown her the power of photography. While shooting a portrait in St. Louis, she was commissioned by a young woman to do a family photograph that included her now divorced parents. Hollander said it was amazing to see how everyone was willing to set aside their differences and come together for a picture.
Erica Hodgkinson, Boston
She said she has also seen her own personality change intensely. “It’s turned me into a much nicer person!” she said. “I used to be one of those that hated small talk. Now I am much more engaging and enjoy having conversations.” Her friend count has also grown immensely–in real life, not just on Facebook.
Emily Sunderman, Michael and Carter Lee West, Cornwall, Vermont
Daryl Fort, Portland, Maine
Emma Hollander, Boston
Ben Waxman, Washington, D.C.
Philippe Gagnon and Saul Cruz
Flo Lunn, Brooklyn, N.Y.