Turning 30 may be cause to cheer or cringe, depending on where you’re from.
In 2014, photographer Stephane Domingues set out on a 15-month expedition around the world to meet and document the lives of other people in their 30s.” He wanted to see how nationality, culture, and living situations shape our values and define our identities.
The result is a stunning and honest portrait series, titled “Being 30.” Domingues shared some of the images with us. You can find out more about the project on his blog.
'Turning 30 was quite an important event in my life,' Stephan Domingues told Business Insider in 2015, when we first spoke. 'I felt it was the case for people around me.'
Domingues spent a few months trying to organise his travel itinerary and a few years preparing financially, but ultimately left his route in 'the hands of destiny.'
There, he met one of his first subjects: Bori Balachew, a cattle farmer and a father of five. At the time, Balachew lived in a small village in Ethiopia's South Omo Valley.
Balachew raised cattle and farmed on his family's plantation since he was eight or nine. He said he considers himself young until he buys more cows, an indicator of wealth.
Balachew described his greatest accomplishment as participating in a Hamer tribe ritual, during which he lived in the bushes and drank only goat blood and milk.
After meeting Balachew, Domingues bopped around from country to country, across five continents, in search of more 30-year-olds to photograph for his series.
He found his subjects on social networking apps such as Airbnb, Instagram, Tinder, and Couchsurfing. Others he met on the street or through friends.
Domingues shadowed people at home, on their commutes, during work, and while socialising with friends or family, in order to get a full sense of their lives.
He always carved an hour for an interview, during which he asked the same questions about their lives, fears, ambitions, and memories.
Faruk Gomes Antonio, a fisherman from Mozambique, said the event that most shaped his life was when an armed group entered his village, and his family ran to the beach and hid. He was 12 at the time.
He said his best memory is 'right now.' He added: 'I am able to have a better job and income than ever before.'
The death of the former Argentinean president affected her most in life, Rapoport told Domingues. She heard the news on the radio and cried. 'This made me realise what was my real political opinion,' Rapoport said.
Domingues was surprised by the variety of answers he received in interviews. 'Life is at the same time very different and very similar everywhere,' he told Business Insider.
In Bangkok, Thailand, he met Kornnatt Surapat, who dreamed of being a veterinarian as a child. He went on to study economics and became a yoga instructor.
'At 30 I feel like I am trying to find the right balance in my life. I do not feel that old because I am a lifelong learner,' Surapat said. 'I may also feel young because I look younger than my age, even compared to my twin brother.'
Domingues also met serial entrepreneur Maceo Paisley, who served five years doing logistics with the United States Army before settling in Los Angeles.
He was 16 when the terrorist attacks occurred on September 11. 'I told myself it was an accident, but then realised that someone did it on purpose,' Paisley said. 'I joined the Army two years after 9/11 because I wanted to give back to my country.'
Today, he's an artist, designer, and cultural producer. 'They say that in your 30's you settle in your identity,' Paisley said, 'and I feel that's very much truth.'
'I thought I would be married with two to five children, living in a house with a white picket fence,' said Maria Maltseva, a graphic designer based in Auckland, New Zealand.
That hadn't happened at the time of her interview with Domingues, but she was still happy. 'I still get excited about little things, like looking at the sunrise,' Maltseva said.
Few people seemed to achieve their childhood ambitions. Leandro Peres Martins dreamed of being a truck driver.
'When I go out and get drunk, I need two or three days to recover. That is quite new,' Martins said. 'Regarding the mind, I am starting to think much more about my future than I used to.'
New goals crop up as people depart their 20s. At the time of the interview, Oscar Villarroel Ibarra, of Potosi, Bolivia, hoped to be elected president of his miners' cooperative.
His father, also a miner, died of lung cancer. Ibarra wanted to improve working conditions for miners and organise recreational programs for their families.
A landmark moment in his life was winning an urban soccer tournament four years in a row. The prize was a living llama.
Some things in life can't be planned for. Prerana Deora's parents started 'hunting' for her husband while she was in her first year of psychology studies.
She and her husband only communicated by phone in the six months before the wedding. 'The first hours we spent together were so weird,' Deora said.
'I do not have what I can call a job but I am very happy that I can take care of my home,' Deora said. She said her 'biological clock is ticking,' and she wants to be a mum.
In Kyoto, he met Satoshi Gotsubo, who practiced a Japanese acupuncture technique and paid the bills doing logistics for a copy machine company.
'I used to move on the surface of my life but I feel I am going deeper now,' Gotsubo said. 'I see myself as a collection of many parts that I need to build up.'
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