A combination of portraits of young teenagers and their own chosen selfies.
Featuring: Vivian Keulards
Vivian Keulards and United Photo Industries
It’s fascinating to watch how people present themselves in the digital world of social media. I specifically find teenagers intriguing to observe. I was introduced to the culture of selfies through my 13-year-old daughter, Eva. I’ve been watching how she makes selfies without any shame of me sitting next to her, then post them on Instagram and check every five minutes how many likes she’s got. When she receives less than 100 likes in one day, she removes her selfie from Instagram. The images presented in her digital world, the way she sees herself, differ hugely from my view upon my daughter’s stage of life. In the digital world, she shows herself as a self-confident, fearless, knowing-what-she-wants, older-looking, happy girl. In real life, I know how hard this stage of life is: puberty. Trying to figure out who you are, seeking for new peers in school, trying to walk those first steps toward adulthood. On the one hand, they seem quite independent and grown-up, on the other hand, they are so vulnerable and drifting.
With this concept, I made portraits of young Dutch teenagers in 7th grade — the first year of high school in the Netherlands — a new start. I portrayed boys and girls through my eyes and they send me their selected selfies. The combination of both views is captivating. You can see the contradiction of both worlds.
Of course, most of them disliked the portrait I made!
Vivian Keulards was born and raised in the Netherlands and successfully graduated as a portrait photographer at the Photo Academy in Amsterdam in 2009. In the past, she gained a Master Degree in Communication Science where her fascination for images and photography started. One year after her graduation at the Photo Academy, she moved to Colorado with her family and lived there for three years. During this period of time she learned a lot about photography, her work and herself.
Her work is always about human beings. She loves to meet new people, preferably outside of her own familiar world. She’s fascinated by their self-consciousness, their captivating appearances, their vulnerability and/or life stories. Her projects are sometimes documentary-based and sometimes fine arts-based.
Her work has been published, exhibited and rewarded internationally. Some of the portraits are part of collections (like the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston). Last year she was a Critical Mass top 50 winner and in September her first book Flaming Grace (art portraits of red-headed children) will be published.
Nowadays, Vivian is back in the Netherlands, where she works on her own photography projects and on assignments. She also teaches classes and workshops.