As part of her project “Au Coin de ma Rue” (At the Corner of My Street), photographer Barbara Iweins set out to explore the intimacy of strangers she met in the street.
“Since I am young, I am fascinated by strangers,” she wrote on her website. “While waiting for a bus, while standing in a line, my eyes are always drawn by a specific person. At that exact moment, I can’t stop wondering what he is thinking, what he is doing, what are his fears and joys.
“Seven years ago, I decided to embrace this obsession and decided to capture some of these people passing with a camera. I bought a 50mm lens, and simply started asking to take their portrait.”
After taking 300 portraits, Iweins decided to photograph 30 of the 300 each year for five years, each time with a different theme.
“7am-7pm,” which shows the difference between people’s faces in the morning and at night, was her theme in the fourth year of the project.
Iweins said that because of social networks and selfie culture, people have become used to posing.
“When I was asking them 5 years ago to pose for me in the street, there was a shy look, a bended leg, they were trying to hide behind their bag or something,” she wrote.
She wanted to show a more vulnerable side of her subjects.
She decided the way to do this was to capture people before and after they sleep.
“I felt that the only moment of the day when a person doesn’t have any shield is the moment a person opens his eyes for the first time,” she wrote.
She invited them to spend the night at her place or went to their homes. She then took a picture of them at 7 p.m., followed by another at 7 a.m., when they woke up.
Many of the subjects had just woken up from dreams and were adjusting to reality.
“I always adored this ‘fighting’ moment when our conscious gets out of the irreality [sic] of dreams to face reality,” she wrote. “Just the moment before the world hurts us.”
She made herself at home, waking them up at exactly 7 a.m. each morning.
“Entering their place as a burglar to wake them up was kind of special and for me (who doesn’t even dare stealing a piece of gum) quite an experience,” she wrote.
But she had only moments to capture the image.
“I thought I would have 20 [minutes] to shoot the expression of a person waking up but actually no, the uninhibited glaze in the eyes of a person [disappears] in 5 [minutes],” she wrote.
“Behind my camera I could really see in a matter of [seconds] that the person was taking his face, his body back in control. The vulnerable human being was gone.”
After the five years were complete, Iweins decided she wasn’t finished.
She plans to photograph the 30 people again in 2019, 10 years after the project began.
We can’t wait to see the results.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.