She Traveled Around The World To Photograph All 626 Of Her Facebook Friends In Person

"I feel connected to all the pictures."

How many of your Facebook friends do you actually see? How many are more than just an acquaintance? For most of us, our "Facebook friend number" is not a reflection of our actual circle, but rather just a collection of people we've met over time that we solely keep in contact with online. Most of us don't even talk to half those people in any capacity, but just lurk on their pages, looking at their latest photos and updates. 

One photographer, Tanja Hollander, however, decided to move her online life into reality. 


In 2011, she photographed all 626 of her Facebook friends ... in person.

According to an interview with Upworthy, Hollander came up with the concept on a New Year's Eve when she was messaging one friend online while writing a letter to another one. The next morning, she began looking at her relationships, in particular all of her Facebook friends, and wondered if she was really friends with them all. 

In a test to see how she could turn these virtual relationship into real-life ones, she travelled all over the world for five years to photograph all of her Facebook friends in their homes. 

To complete the project, Hollander visited four continents, 12 countries, 34 states, and more than 400 homes.

The resulting Are You Really My Friend? photo series takes a look at our relationships online and in real life.

"They are just two different forms of communicating," Hollander told A Plus in an email. "It's not always possible to see friends IRL regularly, especially those who live far away. So virtual ways to communicate are fantastic, especially FaceTime. Being able to see and talk to friends so far away is incredible technology, and also being able to see my family and friends back home while I'm traveling is also great."

Hollander said that the project was a way for her to create a very intimate experience with people that otherwise feel like they only exist in a virtual reality. Photographing them in their homes, and often times staying with them, created a closeness most will never experience with each of their friends on Facebook. 

"I feel connected to all the pictures on a different level than just friendship, they are part of this giant social experiment and art piece I made."

She elaborated, "That's maybe hard to explain. I think there are friendships that are important at various times in our life, and that's OK. There doesn't need to be a hierarchy like there was in 6th grade."

Take a look at more photos from the series:

(H/T: Cosmopolitan)


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