Online dating can be a sticky and confusing subject, one full of ups, downs, and embarrassing stories.
Kirra Cheers, a photographer from Brooklyn, recently set out to document her trials and tribulations using Tinder, a wildly popular app that allows users to approve or deny potential mates based on a small number of pictures and a short bio.
If two users approve each other, they can chat and potentially meet up. While the app certainly makes it easy to meet new people, the lack of substantial information on the other person makes for some interesting first dates.
Cheers went on 17 Tinder dates over the course of two months, and photographed many of them.
The resulting series shows what it’s like to navigate modern dating, on both a personal and universal level. “I wanted to document my own experience so that people can compare it to their own,” she tells Business Insider.
Cheers originally began the project for a group show she was curating about modern romance. 'I wanted my take on the theme to have more of a personal approach, putting myself into the project and documenting my experience with online dating,' she tells Feature Shoot.
Cheers told all of her potential beaus about the project and asked to photograph them during the dates. Initially, she asked before meeting, but found that she had much higher chances of her dates agreeing in person.
Cheers tells Business Insider that 'the use of flash is aggressive and revealing. I think it works well within the gritty New York landscape and defines my style as a photographer.'
She found that the more confident a date was, the more likely they would be OK with having their portrait taken by Cheers.
Cheers says that the resulting images were influenced by multiple factors: 'The dynamic between myself and the person I was photographing, how much I had to drink throughout the course of the date, and my level of attraction both physically and mentally.' She hopes the viewer will draw their own conclusions about how she was feeling.
A mentor later suggested to her that taking photographs for the series was similar to collecting butterflies. She really likes this metaphor, she says, as it speaks to the shift in power dynamics.
Cheers, who lives, works, and dates in New York City, says the city is 'a dating wonderland.' She explains that the dates helped her explore her surroundings more. 'I enjoyed seeing where each person chose to take me and found that it was often a reflection of their intentions -- particularly if they chose a bar around the corner from their apartment,' she tells Business Insider.
She also documented many of her in-app conversations on Tinder, many of which devolved into vulgar propositions. 'Some people use the anonymity of the online dating world to become someone they aspire to be... That perceived ideal might be more vulgar, more charming, more aggressive,' Cheers says.
By the end, Cheers said she had a bit of a 'Tinder hangover.' 'First dates are hard enough, but the added pressure of the project made me more nervous than usual. Putting myself in that position night in, night out was exhausting both emotionally and physically,' she explains.
While she didn't fall in love immediately on Tinder, she did make some platonic friends. Interestingly, a number of her subjects used her portraits on their Tinder profiles and told Cheers they had increased success attracting dates.
'It is my hope that people will look beyond the initial voyeuristic appeal and see the piece as a social commentary about how we connect with each other in a digital world,' Cheers says, adding that personally, she thinks it's a little unhealthy to 'shop' for a mate.
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