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Are You Really My Friend?

Nov 29, 2011

by Linzee McCray handmade and vintage goods

I was a Facebook holdout, and a self-righteous one at that. I was sure that my world was a cleaner, clearer place because I didn’t muck about with people’s lives online. I saw Facebook as the worst kind of clutter. Did I really need to know that someone I barely remembered from high school had a scratchy throat or loved pork chops? “Be here now,” I’d smugly intone when work colleagues questioned my nonparticipation. So they lay in wait, and when I finally, cautiously, signed on, the almost instant onslaught of friend requests — including those from people I hadn’t thought about for years — left me feeling exposed and vulnerable.

I was also confused. Did these folks really fit my definition of “friend”? Why would they want to read my day-to-day prattle? How did I know them and why should we stay in touch?

Photographer Tanja Hollander asked herself those questions and more. And rather than aimlessly ponder, she’s taken camera in hand and is visiting each of her 626 Facebook friends, removing “virtual” from their relationships and creating a portrait to document the moment. To further personalize their meetings, Hollander uses film and natural light to capture images of her FB friends and their family members in intimate settings — gathered around kitchen tables and lounging on living room sofas. She’s dubbed her efforts “Are You Really My Friend? The Facebook Portrait Project.”

Tanja Hollander

Daryl Fort, Portland, Maine.

Tanja Hollander

Andrew Zarou, Brooklyn, New York.

“It’s really an investigation into a question,” she says. “What does it mean to be someone’s friend and how are we all connected?”

Hollander’s FB friends are an amalgam of close buddies, friends-of-friends, business colleagues, and people she hasn’t actually met in real life. “There are different levels of friendship and they give you different things in different ways,” she says. She found the process of planning their face-to-face interactions surprisingly moving. “I’ve had to analyze my friendships of the last 30 years one by one,” she says. “When I was typing everyone into my initial spreadsheet — where they were, thinking of the last time I saw them — it was like going through old scrapbooks. The entire process is a really emotional one that sometimes catches me off guard.”

Tonja Hollander

Hazel Raby and Michael Alderson, Round Pond, Maine.

Tanja Hollander

June Fitzpatrick, Portland, Maine.

Her subjects’ willingness to participate has been gratifying. “The thing that’s surprised me most, although less so as the project continues, is the compassion and generosity people have shown in welcoming me into their homes,” she says. She finds it’s often the first time these friends and their family members have been formally photographed and gives them a copy of the resulting portrait.

Thus far, only two of Hollander’s friends have turned down requests for portraits, both for privacy reasons. She admits that the friends she’s photographed to date have been easy, but foresees challenges. “I’m saving the toughest, like ex-boyfriends, for last,” she says. “Some friends have advised me not to do that though, because then the last three months of the project will suck.”

Tanja Hollander

Mike and Oscar Birnbach and Sarah Litchfield, New Gloucester, Maine.

Tanja Hollander

Scott Toney and Jody Marchand, Westford, Massachusetts.

Hollander’s home visits have highlighted another thing — the difficult times people currently are experiencing. “I’ve seen it’s really tough for creative people in this economy,” she says, referring to her many friends in the arts. “Freelancers are hard up and having to chase people down for checks. But I’m also impressed by how creative people are in supporting themselves. I’m seeing a lot more gardens and prize roosters and bees and people being more self-sufficient than I’ve seen in years.” Hollander supports herself and the FB Portrait Project with a part-time job in the field of child custody law. She’s also written grants and sells her photographs through gallery shows, her blog, and an Etsy shop.

Hollander’s just nine months into what she envisions as a several-year project — to complete her portraits she’ll have to travel to Dubai, Spain, Singapore, Tel Aviv, Scotland, and other locales — and as she travels, the scope of her project expands. As she writes on her blog: “What started out as a personal documentary on friendship and environmental portraiture has turned into an exploration of American culture, relationships, generosity and compassion, family structure, community building, storytelling, meal sharing, our relationship to technology and travel in the twenty-first century, social networking, memory, and the history of the portrait.”

Tanja Hollander

Denis, Elliot and Toby Nye, Portland, Maine.

Tanja Hollander

Mary Bok with Surely and Honey the dogs, Camden, Maine.

Though she’s hesitant to draw conclusions this early in the project, she has debunked one of her original theories — that the community created by Facebook is a false one. “We’ve lost a lot of intimacy because of the Internet, but I’ve been surprised that people really do pay attention to your life,” she says. “They’ll say ‘I saw you were here or doing this.’ Visiting someone solidifies your online relationship and bonds you in a different way. But the online part isn’t just fluff.”


How do you define your online friendships?

2 Featured Comments

  • vcambridge

    vcambridge said 6 years ago Featured

    Conversing with the unknown can be a little intimidating at first. But just like most things you grow past your initial feelings and become comfortable doing just about anything...well most things. I worked in an IT Call Center for several years where I talked on the phone with many different people everyday including the employees in the company I worked for. Finally after meeting people I knew through my telephone conversations, it gave me such a strange feeling seeing the person for the first time. And the person(s) was always different than I imagined. I think I know how Tanja felt with each visit.

  • lovelierseas

    lovelierseas said 6 years ago Featured

    I love this more than I can say! What a wonderful idea. I am working on a project documenting the homes of people in my neighborhood in Brooklyn and I can relate to how difficult it can be to ask someone to participate in what is really a sort of invasive project. The results are so worth the discomfort, though. You have some really lovely images and a wonderful story here.


  • Colettesboutique

    Colettesboutique said 6 years ago

    What an interesting experiment! I would be great to travel the world to meet some FB friends. Hope to read more of this experience.

  • AlisaDesign

    AlisaDesign said 6 years ago


  • consciousclothing

    consciousclothing said 6 years ago

    Awesome- good luck with this project. I think I want to send you a friend request! :)

  • blainedesign

    blainedesign said 6 years ago

    Super, super fantastic! What an article! I have to say, Tanja Hollander's "friends" look wildly bohemian and interesting -- people you might actually want to know. An amazing project.

  • vicro

    vicro said 6 years ago

    Fantastic! You will have such great memories from those visits!

  • jamiespinello

    jamiespinello said 6 years ago

    Some of those people look a little less thrilled. Checking out that link to see more.....

  • TheBloomingThread

    TheBloomingThread said 6 years ago

    this is bizarrely interesting- its very easy to assume any identity you want online, even towards people you do know. i actually have a lot of people who have joined my facebook through etsy and id be curious what the results would be if i did an experiment like this myself.

  • RiRiFisch

    RiRiFisch said 6 years ago

    <3 <3

  • modernalamode

    modernalamode said 6 years ago


  • StudioAMF

    StudioAMF said 6 years ago

    Great social experiment! I love to hate Facebook....or maybe I hate to love it. Anyway, I will try to get off my high horse and enjoy things for what they are! Super interesting, best of luck!

  • TheLittleRagamuffin

    TheLittleRagamuffin said 6 years ago

    Thank you for sharing this incredible story! I joined facebook mainly as a business tool, but having a personal account you don't use is almost harder than not having one at all. People think that if you joined facebook you must be participating in it and therefore you must know what's going on their lives. I feel guilty seeing facebook friends in real life and they are surprised when they find out I didn't know they were pregnant or newly married...I find myself wishing I had paid more attention to their virtual lives.

  • VoleedeMoineaux

    VoleedeMoineaux said 6 years ago

    I think I have finally met all of my facebook friends, but some only once.

  • PoleStar

    PoleStar said 6 years ago

    Wow this is really fantastic. What a neat project to embark on as well, and how lucky she is to make these relationships feel more personal. I stay away from friending ex boyfriends, because I found myself looking at their feed and realizing again why there were EX. However I do feel more connected and do love to read my friend feeds, friends I've known and those I've never met.

  • lisammay

    lisammay said 6 years ago

    This is a really fascinating story about an equally fascinating subject! I am one of those people who closed my Facebook account in an effort to be more connected, purposeful and intimate in my relationships. It's been a few months now and I really don't miss it. However, I have had experiences where an acquaintence doesn't share pictures directly with me, or doesn't extend an invitation directly to me, because I am not on Facebook. They seem surprised that I wasn't aware of their event and I am surprised that they didn't notice I wasn't on their distribution list. Hhhhhhmmmmmm....

  • gothicreations

    gothicreations said 6 years ago

    very cool

  • beccasboudoir

    beccasboudoir said 6 years ago

    What a powerful message "Are you really my friend?" Great photos and what a wonderful idea.

  • FoundVintageStyle

    FoundVintageStyle said 6 years ago

    I could see a documentary filmed on this project. I think everyone could relate, as we pause and think what opening up our lives on Facebook means...

  • skoozies

    skoozies said 6 years ago


  • rozzie

    rozzie said 6 years ago

    An amazing idea and so glad to hear she's going with it! The portraits truly tell a story, how talented as well. I wonder the same thing about my facebook friends, and how it's a strange cultural phenomenon.

  • SaraAmrhein

    SaraAmrhein said 6 years ago

    I've often had the same thoughts about fb. Do I really want people I barely know or who I lost contact with (some of them on purpose) to know about my life? But then you don't want to make anyone feel bad by ignoring their request for 'friendship' so you accept and then find yourself being a bit more careful about what you actually post. I've even thought about creating another account in a code name to connect with those who are my real life friends and family; I know many who have done this, but then this project makes you re-think all of that, all of these people have been a part of my life at one point or another and if they want to be my 'friend' well then obviously I meant something to them, and I guess that's kinda cool. This is an incredible project, and an incredible way to get to know yourself I imagine, not just those being photographed. Really amazing.

  • SaraAmrhein

    SaraAmrhein said 6 years ago

    Oh, and the photos are beautiful, BTW

  • pennyglassgirl

    pennyglassgirl said 6 years ago

    Great project idea. Stunning portraits.

  • MegansMenagerie

    MegansMenagerie said 6 years ago

    Great idea! Good luck!!! Love the photos!

  • SweetMoonlightShop

    SweetMoonlightShop said 6 years ago

    truly fascinating.

  • maggiesraggedyinn

    maggiesraggedyinn said 6 years ago

    What an amazing and interesting article... just the pictures alone say so much!

  • JulienDenoyer

    JulienDenoyer said 6 years ago

    This is so cool and there are some really great portraits! As a photographer myself, I can really appreciate where she's coming from!

  • TheOnesie

    TheOnesie said 6 years ago

    Gorgeous pictures and a very thought-provoking project. Here's a question, though... what happens if, in her travels, she meets new people and adds more friends to her fb friends list? It could be never-ending! :)

  • klinker

    klinker said 6 years ago

    cool idea. before facebook. i did a roadtrip to visit friends i had made over the years in parts of the us. it was a great time...and those memories of people in their space really do last!

  • Sloanester

    Sloanester said 6 years ago

    I applaud you doing this project! What a wonderful exploration. Very interesting article and wonderful portraits.

  • MagpieQuilts

    MagpieQuilts said 6 years ago

    Great topic! I have a love/hate relationship with FB - I love that it allows me to connect with friends and family that I don't get to see often because of distance, but I hate having my personal info "out there". Once posted, there's no getting it back!

  • grimmandgrete

    grimmandgrete said 6 years ago

    Awesome idea, love the photos. Best of luck with the rest of your journey/project.

  • crownring

    crownring said 6 years ago

    While I don't do FaceBook, I have been blessed with the opportunity to meet a couple lovely Etsy sellers and other "net friends" in real life. I definitely would love to meet and share a cuppa joe with a few more! :) Kudoes to Tanja Hollander for embarkng on such an interesting project! (I would skip the ex-boyfriends though.)

  • tanjaalexiahollander

    tanjaalexiahollander said 6 years ago

    Wow everyone thanks for all the comments - keep them coming! I love hearing feedback. And be sure to like the FB page to hear the latest tales and see the latest pictures. @TheOnesie - I'm working off a list of 626 when I first started the project and am only photographing "new" friends if I'm at their place anyway ...

  • designlab443

    designlab443 said 6 years ago

    very cool idea... what a great adventure!

  • TheZestyDesk

    TheZestyDesk said 6 years ago

    How cool of a project and the photos are wonderful! I've often wondered about this subject...I keep my online friends to a minimum but it's nice to be able to see how old friends I don't keep in touch with very often are doing. It will be cool to see where this project goes...

  • cayennepeppybags

    cayennepeppybags said 6 years ago

    Fascinating. The pics offer such an interesting view of how people live. Love this idea

  • Squier

    Squier said 6 years ago

    What an amazing project! Best of luck with your adventure.

  • ByRees

    ByRees said 6 years ago

    Sometimes I´m asking same questions from myself... In real life I have only two friends, but in virtual way hundreds. In some way I care about them too, but real friend is a real friend. I can touch and hug them, our relationships are rich. Thank you Tanja for sharing this experiment! It was really interesting to read about it!

  • bhangtiez

    bhangtiez said 6 years ago

    Sounds like fun! Good luck and thanks for sharing!

  • btaylorquilts

    btaylorquilts said 6 years ago

    Such a great story. I find myself asking that about some of my friends on FB...Do I really know you. This is a great project! Good luck :)

  • tiialin

    tiialin said 6 years ago

    I love this idea! I agree with another person's comment about wanting to send a friend request!

  • MichelleAtkinson

    MichelleAtkinson said 6 years ago

    I'm wondering why almost all of her friends don't have any kind of window treatments? very interesting!

  • BeaumontStudio

    BeaumontStudio said 6 years ago

    This was a great post! Well written and close to home- we've all been unnerved by FB to some extent, even if we are non participants.

  • DollFromTheAttic

    DollFromTheAttic said 6 years ago

    This is a GREAT idea! And what odd timing, as I was just considering deleting some people from my friend list...I always feel kind of bad for doing it, though even if we didn't maintain an actual friendship in real life! So weird...

  • midory1

    midory1 said 6 years ago

    If this isn't amazing I dont know what is! I got chills.. I wish I was there to experience all of the emotions that you get to feel with this. Seriously goodluck! Specially with the ex-boyfriends ;)

  • CatShyCrafts

    CatShyCrafts said 6 years ago

    Loved this article. Interesting read.

  • knitfitt

    knitfitt said 6 years ago

    Fascinating project. I have online friends I have known for over 15 years due to shared interests but have never met. Thanks to fb I am getting to know them even better, in fuller dimensions. Another interesting thing - those fb friends who are connected to at least two others of my friends from very different parts of my life. Example: one is friends with a college classmate and with someone I got to know via Deerhound ownership.

  • nenafashions

    nenafashions said 6 years ago

    Very interesting project. Much success.

  • coda1229

    coda1229 said 6 years ago

    I go back and forth on canceling my FB account. "Did I really need to know that someone I barely remembered from high school had a scratchy throat or loved pork chops?" This really helps me make up my mind! Great article! Thanks! :)

  • BarkingSandsVintage

    BarkingSandsVintage said 6 years ago

    A vintage furniture lover's aside to this interesting article--the table Mary Bok is sitting at is AMAZING.

  • breadandroses

    breadandroses said 6 years ago

    Intriguing. Love the houses shown in Maine. Perhaps they're situated with lots of elbow room and don't need window treatments.

  • NutfieldWeaver

    NutfieldWeaver said 6 years ago

    This is one of the most interesting Etsy blog posts that I've read. I have mixed feelings about Facebook; I started using it so that I would know what my kids were getting into and found it to be somewhat unsettling - I still find it unsettling. That wooden dining table in Maine with the Selkirk Grace prayer around the edge is a treasure!

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 6 years ago

    Love your photos and those Maine folks!

  • doudoudesign

    doudoudesign said 6 years ago

    NutfieldWeaver says: .... That wooden dining table in Maine with the Selkirk Grace prayer around the edge is a treasure! ------------------------------------------------------- Agree - love that table. Interesting photos, I have to say none of those people look particularly thrilled to see her, most of them look bothered don't they? Weird.

  • TandJsoaps

    TandJsoaps said 6 years ago

    This is great!

  • scottcahillrude

    scottcahillrude said 6 years ago

    What a great idea, it must be fascinating for her to meet, learn, and photograph all these different people in their natural surroundings....As a photographer myself, I find this story very interesting and inspiring....

  • LorenzoTheCat

    LorenzoTheCat said 6 years ago

    Brilliant idea!

  • KPlager

    KPlager said 6 years ago

    Most of my facebook friends were real friends at some point in my life. I've moved so many times in my adult life that facebook has enabled me to hang onto those people who would have been otherwise lost to me.

  • BlackArrowsForever

    BlackArrowsForever said 6 years ago

    I freaking love this! It's Brilliant! Thank you!!

  • LuLusWoobies

    LuLusWoobies said 6 years ago

    Very cool! I love that Tanja is making the experience such a personal one, and it makes me curious to get to know the people too.

  • jenpanek

    jenpanek said 6 years ago

    Fascinating idea, but the thing that strikes me most is how many awesome floors there are in those pictures. The one with the dogs! The one with the teenage boys! I have no idea why all I can see is floors...

  • MoshiMomo

    MoshiMomo said 6 years ago

    wow,this is such a great project! The photos have so much beauty in them

  • MishaGirl

    MishaGirl said 6 years ago

    Interesting project! And, what a great reason to travel. Good Luck with the rest of it!

  • dahlilafound

    dahlilafound said 6 years ago

    I love this! The photographs are stunning. I look forward to seeing how the project unfolds. I have not had personal luck w/Facebook--way too overwhelming & clutttered. I do, however, Twitter & although I have ups & downs about it, I really do enjoy the people I meet there. Sometimes complete strangers say the most endearing things. And tomorrow, I'm meeting one of my Tweeples for lunch! & I have no idea what she looks like. Can't wait. :-)

  • HomeStudio

    HomeStudio said 6 years ago

    Really interesting. Brilliant photos.

  • PyxusPassionProject

    PyxusPassionProject said 6 years ago

    Wonderful photos and such an interesting project. Thanks for sharing!

  • SpiritedWoodland

    SpiritedWoodland said 6 years ago

    Amazing concept - love that this takes place close to my neighborhood. Well done.

  • Laviniasmuse

    Laviniasmuse said 6 years ago

    I am figuring out the complexities of Face Book and Etsy links. This photo documentary is valuable to help define our relationships with "friends on FB" as viewers of this article.

  • zenceramics

    zenceramics said 6 years ago

    Very fascinating story and great social experiment! . love the photos.

  • metalicious

    metalicious said 6 years ago

    What a phenomenal journey. The portraits are gorgeous, thank you for sharing such a great story.

  • somsstudiosupplies

    somsstudiosupplies said 6 years ago

    Wow!! Now this is something fresh!

  • mynameiskorrine

    mynameiskorrine said 6 years ago

    I absolutely love this.

  • yimmekedesign

    yimmekedesign said 6 years ago

    I canceled my facebook account a couple of months ago. I suddenly realized that my brain was cluttered with thoughts and pictures of loved ones and not so loved ones. I found out things I did not want to know and I voiced opinions according to what I saw and read, not about what I knew for sure. I am happier now in my smaller but uncluttered world. Aaaaah,,,,feels good to have more quality time on hand.

  • silversamba

    silversamba said 6 years ago

    Lovely photos. I definitely see facebook as clutter - and no room for clutter in my world :)

  • katrinaalana

    katrinaalana said 6 years ago

    Interesting article. With Facebook you get in touch with family and friends and get to know more about their lives. For us, this is a great tool that helps us catch up with what is going on since we live overseas and away from our loved ones. I think you just need to be selective about who you add to your account so that you get the news about the people you care about.

  • aneedleinthehay

    aneedleinthehay said 6 years ago

    fascinating article and gorgeous photography! thank you for sharing!

  • econica

    econica said 6 years ago

    what a fresh idea. Great project!

  • theroyal

    theroyal said 6 years ago

    beautiful portraits and concept.

  • momwithahook

    momwithahook said 6 years ago

    excellent photos but the story of how she was resistant to social media and is now doing a whole series on Friendships is pretty cool. I wish I had the funds and talent to travel and do what she is blessed to be able to do.

  • emwi

    emwi said 6 years ago

    What a great idea. I wonder now how many of these people have made these photographs their profile picture. But seriously, it gives a really interesting look at the other side of facebook. Facebook is really quite silly if you think about it. Great post, thanks for sharing!

  • QsGoodies

    QsGoodies said 6 years ago

    The photography is amaZing! Awesome project and great experience! It really makes you stop and think.

  • fancifuldevices

    fancifuldevices said 6 years ago

    this was so moving! What a wonderful tale. like the commenter who could only see the floors, I could only see the dogs!

  • QsGoodies

    QsGoodies said 6 years ago

    The photography is amaZing! Great project and wondeful experience! It really makes you stop and think!

  • OldNewAgain

    OldNewAgain said 6 years ago


  • SentimentalHVintage

    SentimentalHVintage said 6 years ago

    This is so genius.

  • TheLotusRoot

    TheLotusRoot said 6 years ago

    what a great project! I can't wait to see more!

  • izzerdoodle

    izzerdoodle said 6 years ago

    Amazing project! I met my husband in a chat room before there were big dating sites, and have some really close friends on facebook that I haven't met yet. I would love to go around and meet them all in person!

  • SASessories

    SASessories said 6 years ago

    oh boy... could i get into this one! 1 of the best articles/concepts ive read in some time! keep it real!

  • reflectionsjewelry

    reflectionsjewelry said 6 years ago

    This is awesome! I've been anFB hold out also, until recently....and I am coming to the conclusion that its uses outweigh its evils, if you use it responsibly. Thanks for an interesting story.

  • SMVdesigns

    SMVdesigns said 6 years ago

    Very interesting project. I really do not like FB, and try to keep my personal stuff away from public eye. It is great though to see real people, how different they all are. I love this story.

  • envydesignsjewelry

    envydesignsjewelry said 6 years ago

    Great story and wonderful photos! Thanks for the interesting take on Facebook friendship!

  • WashableArt

    WashableArt said 6 years ago


  • rudygalvan1

    rudygalvan1 said 6 years ago

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. I feel much the same way.

  • sweetsere

    sweetsere said 6 years ago

    You may practice law, but you are a cultural anthropologist at heart. I too held out on joining Facebook, but it has been all positive for me over the last two and a half months I have been there.

  • danapereabloede

    danapereabloede said 6 years ago

    both the photographs and narratives are amazing, loved reading about the project.

  • infusion

    infusion said 6 years ago

    this is SO fascinating. I have been a holdout as well (and still am). I might never join Facebook, but I think what you are doing here is amazingly interesting, and your portraits are all so intriguing and beautiful.

  • freesoul

    freesoul said 6 years ago

    Awesome!! I am pro facebook and would love to do something like this..I have reconnected with many very good old friends and I find it amazing!! although must not get sucked in all the time ; )

  • amymaja

    amymaja said 6 years ago

    what an awesome idea!

  • 2TrickPony

    2TrickPony said 6 years ago

    the photography is awesome. plus I love investigating this idea of friendship.

  • mycrochetgarden

    mycrochetgarden said 6 years ago

    Oh my gosh I love this!!! I love seeing who the person behind the name is and to actually see them in their personal space WOW! And what great spaces these people have. I also noticed there are no blinds or curtians on anyones windows. I also love that their pets are in the photograhps. I think facebook like anything else will be what you make it.

  • FairytaleStitches

    FairytaleStitches said 6 years ago

    Did anyone else get all into the story and then get completely side tracked by the awesome table in the last photo? >_< the shinies get me every time.

  • KMalinka

    KMalinka said 6 years ago

    Wonderful story and pictures!

  • RossLab

    RossLab said 6 years ago

    FB is not my cup of tea, but the project and photos are great.

  • CynthiaHarrington

    CynthiaHarrington said 6 years ago

    What a really interesting project and absolutely intriguing and beautiful photos- I just shared the link with all of MY facebook friends!

  • DirtyGirlDiamonds

    DirtyGirlDiamonds said 6 years ago

    Such a wonderful idea...and great photographs. I am a Facebook junkie, even reconnected with a childhood friend...who I am now married to and have a beautiful little girl with. I sometimes wonder about all of my other friends and wish I could do this personally, but alas, airline ticket prices won't allow it. :)

  • kovacsgabriella

    kovacsgabriella said 6 years ago

    I LOVE IT!!! Begin the day joyously. Thank you!

  • HandmadeHandsome

    HandmadeHandsome said 6 years ago

    Fascinating. Just to look at the photos of (to me) miscellaneous people in their homes. (What strikes me is the spaciousness in most of the homes.) I also love the title of the project.

  • nativetongue

    nativetongue said 6 years ago

    Sorry, but that sounds really silly and like a waste of time and money. Don't over think it .

  • oldecityvintage

    oldecityvintage said 6 years ago

    Loved this- shared immediately. I too liked seeing the interiors of homes- some are in complete disarray- quite different from the things people post on facebook. I'm not sure why people posted negative comments above- I don't think this project was a waste of time at all- and some of her ponderings I actually wondered about myself. Good for her for taking the intiative to seek out her friends and develop more meaningful relationships and to photograph them as she saw them and not what they want you to see.

  • oddbobbins

    oddbobbins said 6 years ago

    A thought-provoking exercise.

  • vcambridge

    vcambridge said 6 years ago Featured

    Conversing with the unknown can be a little intimidating at first. But just like most things you grow past your initial feelings and become comfortable doing just about anything...well most things. I worked in an IT Call Center for several years where I talked on the phone with many different people everyday including the employees in the company I worked for. Finally after meeting people I knew through my telephone conversations, it gave me such a strange feeling seeing the person for the first time. And the person(s) was always different than I imagined. I think I know how Tanja felt with each visit.

  • redemptionart

    redemptionart said 6 years ago

    I love my facebook friends and family....I guess I just love people and life in general, I figure that without relationships there really is no point! Glad you now like facebook and see it as a way to connect on a regular basis....Aloha!

  • LizzieMade

    LizzieMade said 6 years ago

    Very worthwhile and interesting experiment - It looks as if Tanya Hollander is finding out a lot of things about relationships, friendship and herself too. I would like to read her book when it's completed. I've just been away for a weekend, which I organised for myself and a group of fellow "Bloggers". We are all "Blog Friends", who "met" via our various crafting pursuits - mainly scrapbooking and mostly via Shimelle Laine's fabulous online courses (esp. "Blogging for Scrapbookers" which got most of us started with our blogs). Some of the group knew one other person well, but most of us had never met in "Real Life". It was a wonderful weekend, spend consolidating the friendships that we had begun online, via our blog posts and associated comments, e-mails etc. It is true that meeting online friends "for real" does give a different perspective to that friendship. I think we came away feeling we had each made a set of new "Real Friends", who we want to keep in touch with - even if online is the only option most of the time. Thanks to Linzee McCray for this very interesting article. I wish her and Tanya much luck with their future projects!

  • ceciliabergman

    ceciliabergman said 6 years ago

    What an interesting project! I both like and dislike FB. I live far from my hometown and like having a window into my the life of my old friends at home. But it is of course also shallow and not for real. So it is really interesting to see someone making FB real, and FB-friens real. What is friendship - a really good question!

  • laralewis

    laralewis said 6 years ago

    This is such a fantastic post. I truly enjoyed reading it, and it's really made me think. Lovely photos, too!

  • sumvan

    sumvan said 6 years ago

    you would have to have a large money tree to do that...very cool, but not realistic for most people. Very interesting take on friendship....neat to see what someone else has going on in their outlook of life, but it's not for me. A few real close friends "Who will stick closer than a brother" is good enough for me! :)

  • lovinganvil

    lovinganvil said 6 years ago

    really interesting...lots of maine folk in the photos...i'll share this on...well, facebook and twitter and the whole lot. xoxo

  • AuntieOm

    AuntieOm said 6 years ago

    Brilliant and fascinating project. Thanks to Etsy and Linzee for bringing it to our attention! I'd love to see this project result in a book / documentary / or some form of everything gathered and gleaned.

  • phoebeford

    phoebeford said 6 years ago

    What a fascinating project!

  • LinfluentialDesigns

    LinfluentialDesigns said 6 years ago

    Such an awesome ideal.

  • huntingladybugs

    huntingladybugs said 6 years ago

    What wonderful food for thought. My favourite photo is Mary Bok. I cull FB 'friends' every once in a while. My rule of thumb is if I would stop and talk to you in the street then you can be my friend but having a business page has made me re-think that totally though.

  • GardenDaisiesStudio

    GardenDaisiesStudio said 6 years ago

    What a wonderful and trying idea. I'd love to see all of the portraits in documentary or compilation of some sort. Kind of exciting.

  • candlelightofblood

    candlelightofblood said 6 years ago

    Pretty damn cool project...

  • SassySisterVintage

    SassySisterVintage said 6 years ago

    I like this project and enjoyed looking at the pics. Love to look inside the homes! I am one of those people that doesn't overanalyze things. I like people and FB is a way of catching up. My dad, sister and me talk almost daily on FB.

  • gretamilani

    gretamilani said 6 years ago


  • BanglewoodSupplies

    BanglewoodSupplies said 6 years ago

    I am so jealous. I wish I had the money and time to do something like this. It would truly be amazing and would have visited all my ex boyfriends first! lol!

  • anotherghostquilts

    anotherghostquilts said 6 years ago

    Fabulous, Linzee, as always. I'm an FB holdout. I loved seeing all these great portraits, especially since they are mostly Mainers.

  • ShirleysCandyShop

    ShirleysCandyShop said 6 years ago

    Love this story! Love the photos! Fantastic!

  • iDreamOfDarwin

    iDreamOfDarwin said 6 years ago

    Fascinating! What an incredible project - I love the simplicity of these shots and the intimacy behind them.

  • FirebirdJewellery

    FirebirdJewellery said 6 years ago

    Great story, and wonderful photos! Also sounds amazing to be able to visit all those different places too... And have a somewhat familiar face to greet you, even if you've never met them before. I was a facebook holdout for a long time, but eventually gave in, then found myself with over 1000 'friends' that I didn't actually know... I'm trying to cut down now, albeit politely, mostly by deleting those who post random crap on my wall from apps... But I did actually get to know some of them quite well, and I actually now live with one! Yep, I found my boyfriend on facebook. :)

  • raspberryhead

    raspberryhead said 6 years ago

    the portraits are beautiful. i dont like facebook. i think i have about 7 friends because i refuse to add people. my friends are my friends and my business contacts are just that and neither of them are good facebook material for me. i don't know what to do with facebook, it doesnt fit who i am and i feel like it waters down my human contact. maybe its just a personal thing. the people that are reallly my friends are the people im on the phone with. the scratchy throat pork chop thing hit the nail on the head for me. fb just isnt my sort of thing...

  • SaraBJewelry

    SaraBJewelry said 6 years ago

    This project is fascinating and the portraits are absolutely gorgeous! Very inspiring.

  • paintedmoments

    paintedmoments said 6 years ago

    Do people in Maine not have curtains?

  • AidensBrook

    AidensBrook said 6 years ago

    I love this... I always ask this to myself but tend to allow "friends" to join in as I believe I have had a lot of friends loose touch with me through no fault of their own. We moved a lot when I was young and at the time my friends couldn't understand why I couldn't keep in touch as I had many more to contact then tehy did just loosing me. I love this idea becasue I am always interested in how others live and carry on. The only problem I have with this posting is the first portrait. I thought ithe article was going to take an ugly turn because the first picture portrays a woman with her hand misplaced and a young child... this made and still makes me very uncomfortable. As a photographer I would assume they would have noticed this and corrected it before using this particular clip.

  • TheHickoryTree

    TheHickoryTree said 6 years ago

    This is really a brilliant idea, I absolutely love the concept. My facebook friends are so diverse and spread out all over the country it would be a challenge to visit them all. The author should also include how she met or became facebook friends with all of them, kind of a six degrees of separation concept. (Kevin Bacon).

  • HooperPix

    HooperPix said 6 years ago

    What a great idea! And what wonderful photographs. I think the photos people post are the essence of Facebook. I was a Facebook holdout, too, but it came down to wanting to participate a bit in the lives of some of my family. With nieces and nephews spread all over the country, it allows me to see photos of where they are in their everyday lives and how their kids are growing. A picture is still worth a thousand words.

  • alatsupplies

    alatsupplies said 6 years ago

    great experience and wonderful portraits! my on-line contacts ave all gradations of connection, including superficial acquaintances, more or less deep friendships and the spammers interested only in themselves internet is the thing I use the most for all my contacts and I have never considered the on-line friendships less real or deep as the offline ones

  • Vivavivant

    Vivavivant said 6 years ago

    What a fantastic idea!

  • BossysFeltworks

    BossysFeltworks said 6 years ago

    I am not on FB, and never have been. However, I have missed out on many important announcements -- a sibling's european travels, or a close (but long-distance) friend who adopted a baby -- their response to my "Why didn't you tell me!!!" was an admonishment "well, you're not on facebook!". It is still my choice to not be on FB, but I realize that then it is up to me to pursue keeping in touch, as the others feel that they've done their part.

  • PrideBracelets

    PrideBracelets said 6 years ago

    I love the project, but my biggest question is: Where can I get the table that lady has in the last picture?

  • kakes005

    kakes005 said 6 years ago

    I love this idea! My focus in college was documentary photography, so I really appreciate was she is doing. It does get tough sometimes finding people that will allow you to photograph them, it get uncomfortable some times, but in the end it is worth it. I think she shouldn't stop, try and get everyone that is your "friend", even those that you might not want to see, or that might not want to see you. In the end it will be worth it.

  • notjustboyzfun

    notjustboyzfun said 6 years ago


  • stellasavestheday

    stellasavestheday said 6 years ago

    I got chills when I discovered that I know 5 of the families that she photographed! They were my studio mates in are really all connected...

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 6 years ago

    Nice stories and photos!

  • OysterVintage

    OysterVintage said 6 years ago

    This is the coolest thing I've read about all week!

  • sevenply

    sevenply said 6 years ago Thank you for sharing! I love that you are holding off on the ex's for now...I hope that the last 3 months don't suck for you!! I am sharing this now to my FB "friends" I might just show up on their door steps :-)

  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush said 6 years ago

    Interesting.. I still won't join ..but interesting..

  • salsafiedsoul

    salsafiedsoul said 6 years ago

    Awesome idea. Beautiful photography.

  • salsafiedsoul

    salsafiedsoul said 6 years ago

    ...may I share this on Facebook? : )

  • blueeyedartist

    blueeyedartist said 6 years ago

    Wow, Tanya's photography is so beautiful and thoughtful. I'm intrigued by this experiment and it makes me wonder what a gallery of my 300 some odd 'friends' would look like. Thank you for sharing~ :)

  • mythunderstood

    mythunderstood said 6 years ago

    What a wonderful project and such dramatic photos. I wonder how many etsy sellers are NOT on facebook?

  • Rachelublue

    Rachelublue said 6 years ago

    As one of the folks photographed for the project (and not smiling in my photo!), I just wanted to respond to the comments about people looking "less than thrilled" to have their picture taken: I was COMPLETELY thrilled to have my picture taken! It's just easier not to smile for the long exposure. p.s. Linzee, I work with your daughter and she is fabulous. Small world!!

  • VictoriaWest

    VictoriaWest said 6 years ago

    Genuinely interesting article, everybody can relate to this. Funny coincidence; I've also deliberately held back from facebook for a very long time. I opened an account just a few weeks ago, in order to contact friends that are otherwise hard to communicate with. I should admit to using an alias though, I still find it hard to accept the total lack of privacy that facebook promotes.

  • amandamagee

    amandamagee said 6 years ago

    I love this, so powerful!

  • salvagedspace

    salvagedspace said 6 years ago

    at a time when i have been recently questioning the value of being on facebook, this gives new insight...thanks for sharing with us!

  • zJayne

    zJayne said 6 years ago

    In awe of such an endeavor! How special to make this happen. I have five siblings and we are all in different States. We don't use facebook to keep in touch, but certainly can keep updated on what's going on and what we like type stuff. They would not really have an idea of my business online if it weren't for the posts there about my shop. You can tell someone what you do, but seeing is believing too.

  • zasra

    zasra said 6 years ago

    Such a great story and idea! I have often pondered about the meaning of my FB friends, about how some have so many , when in reality there is no way to have a connection of any real substance with 100's upon 100's of people. So fascinating , I look forward to reading more about your journey!

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 6 years ago

    Interesting project, I think its fascinating how the people in the photos look so vunerable. An interesting peek inside people's lives.

  • PluckingPendants

    PluckingPendants said 6 years ago

    Love this! Great article

  • MollyFinds

    MollyFinds said 6 years ago

    LOBE THIS project HOPE you get a book deal:)

  • lovelierseas

    lovelierseas said 6 years ago Featured

    I love this more than I can say! What a wonderful idea. I am working on a project documenting the homes of people in my neighborhood in Brooklyn and I can relate to how difficult it can be to ask someone to participate in what is really a sort of invasive project. The results are so worth the discomfort, though. You have some really lovely images and a wonderful story here.

  • GraphiKouture

    GraphiKouture said 6 years ago

    This is amazing. Inspiring. I'm thrilled to see such a personal project presented in such an artistic light. I will definitely be mentioning this in my next post.

  • loveleeflowers

    loveleeflowers said 6 years ago

    Great idea... plus your photography is stunning!

  • soulflowervintage

    soulflowervintage said 6 years ago

    What a great idea and agreed the pictures are stunning..

  • BrookeJewelry

    BrookeJewelry said 6 years ago

    What an interesting and daunting project and blog post. It's wonderful that so many people are so welcoming.

  • SkinnyKnits

    SkinnyKnits said 6 years ago

    Great photography and story! Thank you for sharing and helping to remind us of what the human spirit is really about.

  • bluemango

    bluemango said 6 years ago

    You're photos are simply exceptional! I appreciate you're taking the time to share this adventure. I too have pondered these questions with FB friends.... the idea of taking a significant word "friend" and changing it's meaning to something less . FB is great for those who enjoy it, i think it's a huge waste of precious time. Wishing you continued success!

  • vinskord

    vinskord said 6 years ago

    Facebook is a great business tool. My friends, people that I actually care about, I prefer to talk to them face to face. Great pics, very charming.

  • Eternitee

    Eternitee said 6 years ago

    This is what facebook should be about- more intimacy and glimpses into real lives. Not just the type and go anonymity it can bring. Love your project. Fantastic photos

  • anythingpretty

    anythingpretty said 6 years ago

    Interesting project. I actually only have 25 Facebook friends: 20 of them are family members (immediate and in-laws), 4 are friends from high school, and one is a former college roommate. So I know all of my Facebook friends quite personally. I don't like having lots of friends on Facebook, so I have gone through and un-friended acquaintances and distant relatives who I've only meant once or twice because I really don't see the point in sharing with those people when I know that they don't really care much that my pet bird died or that I slept in too late, but that's just my personal situation. This is a very neat idea though. Like that the portraits are done in the "natural habitats" of the people.

  • dreadnought

    dreadnought said 6 years ago

    Gorgeous photos, and a fascinating project. I'll be sharing this with my students for sure.

  • catiques

    catiques said 6 years ago

    BRAVO!!!!! Very well said and written also. It held my attention, which is not always easy.

  • KissingRavens

    KissingRavens said 6 years ago

    Love it, i love seeing into peoples homes, it's like looking into their souls, each so different and unique, well done.

  • unflappableproducts

    unflappableproducts said 6 years ago

    What a great unique perspective-love these photos and this blog article!

  • yoliesquer

    yoliesquer said 6 years ago

    This will be a lifelong adventure....maybe I will friend her just to meet her??? Lol

  • WhenGuineaPigsFly

    WhenGuineaPigsFly said 6 years ago

    This... is genius. GEN. IUS.

  • megansbeadeddesigns

    megansbeadeddesigns said 6 years ago

    Awesome idea.

  • PinwheelStudio

    PinwheelStudio said 6 years ago

    Excellent idea, and it brings awareness of the need for real contact in friendships. Her portraits are mesmerizing too. I once did a similar project with the people living in my apartment building in college. People of all ages that passed each other daily, but never talked much. This project takes it to a whole other level, though, and I think the dichotomy of intimate settings and online distance is so very interesting. Thanks for sharing about it with all of us.

  • LucaBello

    LucaBello said 6 years ago

    how cool....

  • TheNebulousKingdom

    TheNebulousKingdom said 6 years ago

    What an awesome project and idea. I was fascinated by the article, too!

  • IsabelleKnits

    IsabelleKnits said 6 years ago

    What a great experience to have and very inspiring.

  • driftprojects

    driftprojects said 6 years ago

    This project is so moving. I am excited to check back for upcoming images and stories!!

  • acaigirl

    acaigirl said 6 years ago

    How wonderful!

  • kingscreekpottery

    kingscreekpottery said 6 years ago

    Remarkable. When the internet really took off I wondered how it would be successful for anything but data/shopping. It is fascinating to see how the internet is actually helping to build relationships, if we are smart about it and open ourselves up to relating in different ways. A fascinating project~ can't wait to see the final book!

  • fuchsialove

    fuchsialove said 6 years ago

    Such a great project and the photographs are so beautifully done!

  • dsbrennan

    dsbrennan said 6 years ago

    Gorgeous portraits, and what a great photographic journey. So glad to see this featured.

  • NanaBunny

    NanaBunny said 6 years ago

    what a phenomenal project! can't wait to see the book

  • monkandhoney

    monkandhoney said 6 years ago

    Great idea, project and article! I still find it strange when I meet a friend in person and they pick up the conversation from an online public tweet, post, etc. like it was something we shared personally. I'm old fashioned like that but know its never gonna be the same...

  • MyHumbleJumble

    MyHumbleJumble said 6 years ago

    I too was a Facebook holdout until recently. Since I retired 6 months ago I was missing many of my friends and colleagues so decided to reconnect through Facebook. I am still getting accustomed to the idea of my life being an open book. I'm fascinated with your project and would love to see the final outcome.

  • bethwillett

    bethwillett said 6 years ago

    I love this article. I haven't ever viewed facebook as 'fluff'. But I know a lot of people do. Most of my best friends over the years have moved far away, and I know I might not ever see them again. But the fact that I get those updates on their life, some mundane, and some big- new baby, a marriage, makes me feel still close to them. Its so easy to share pictures and news, and in this day easy is important. Thanks for sharing your project.

  • marywig

    marywig said 6 years ago

    Such a great idea. And I like the "environmentalness" of the portraits - it gives me a better of idea of what these people are like - far more than just their faces would. Hmmmm. Applying it to the etsy world, what if you had a portrait of every person you sold something to...

  • marieowltoinette

    marieowltoinette said 6 years ago

    Such a wonderful project! A great way to explore the concept of a "friend"

  • MaritebeePhotography

    MaritebeePhotography said 6 years ago

    How very unique and creative, really enjoyed reading the blog, beautiful pictures. Social networking can be so futuristically mechanical, cold at times, you seem to have found a lost intimate human quality missing in our society today, bravo!

  • iowajewel

    iowajewel said 6 years ago

    maybe sad to say, but some of my best friends are online only and we have never "met", but it sure would be fun! to me a definition of a friend is someone who cares about you and you don't have to be together physically to have that!

  • RetrofitResale

    RetrofitResale said 6 years ago

    she needs to make a documentary out of this experiment! i'd watch it in a heartbeat. oh, and i found out about this article through a friend on facebook. :) but i've seen her recently. so it's ok.

  • PeacocksTreasures

    PeacocksTreasures said 6 years ago

    I love this! Many of my fb friends are family and former classmates. Many of the classmates, I didn't know that well. It's a great way to reconnect with people from my childhood that I haven't seen in several decades:) But many of my friends I have made online because we have something in common or have clicked. I agree with you RetrofitResale! That could be another revenue source...she could even sell it here on Etsy!!! ;-)~

  • happinessinthemaking

    happinessinthemaking said 6 years ago

    Wow! these pictures make everyones seem so lonely... and that's why we connect, isn't it?

  • colleenoconnor1

    colleenoconnor1 said 5 years ago

    I have been wondering the same thing. At first I was hesitant about Facebook, accepting friends, then I thought it was great but the more I was on it the more people aggravated me. I enjoy seeing other people and what they are doing on Facebook. When I comment or ask a question in an email I expect an answer because I''m not a phoney and I actually care if I comment or email you. I find people are socially "Rude" and I'm wondering the meaning of Facebook. As if they have enough friends and don't have time for you but yet they still want you to like them. I had to actually take a break from it. The break didn't help, I'm still aggravated, but I just need to use it to connect with the people who really do care about me and I care about because I live far away from them and I can see what they are up to.

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