This project is called "L'Enfant-Femme" (the Child-Woman). These are portraits of young teens and pre-teens and how they interact with the camera. The only instruction I give the girls is not to smile and I allow them to fall into their poses as they wish. My aim is to portray the girl, when allowed to pose herself as she wishes in front of the camera. I try to capture alternatively the angst, the self-confidence or lack thereof, the body language, the sense of selfhood and the developing sense of sexuality and womanhood, that girls this age experience.
For some, even though they are not smiling, one can see their sense of selfhood and their almost sensual pleasure in being photographed and in engaging the camera, while others are almost defiant in the way only teens can be, and others still are more separate from the camera, show more angst, are more self-conscious or look away. These are all emotions girls this age alternatively experience as they become aware of whom they are, of their changing bodies, their beauty, and their womanhood, but also of the world around them and the standards of beauty and attitudes they think they need to emulate. However, these are also still young girls who fluctuate between being the child they still are and the young woman they are beginning to turn into. Are they (and we) meant to see themselves as little girls, as teenagers, or as young women?
This work was inspired from my previous project A Girl and Her Room where the focus was on the older teen within her private space. I felt I wanted to get closer and focus on the girl herself and not on the space. I was also inspired simultaneously by my thirteen year old daughter who is transforming before my eyes, and who alternates between being the little girl I know, and a young woman I don't know yet. The focus is now on the younger teen, her expressions, her gestures and her body language instead of the space she occupies.
I am photographing girls in the US where I live and in Lebanon where I am originally from. These are not meant to be a comparison, on the contrary, as the lines blur quickly. Regardless of place, background and religion, girls that age everywhere seem united by similar feelings, aspirations and attitudes. I hope to photograph these girls every year through their adolescence.
The images are shot on medium format film and scanned. Exhibition prints are 30"x 40" pigment prints on Baryta paper.