Portraits of Home

Maya Foster - Ecuador


November 14, 2018

It occurs to me that sometimes conventional language isn’t sufficient. I find, increasingly each day, that words alone cannot describe the complexities of my life here in Cuenca. This realization actually has more to do with the absence of words than their presence.

 

Photography has always been my primary medium of choice. Portraiture, specifically, is an art that has captivated my attention for years. The words surrounding the artform are aggressive – “taking,” “capturing,” and “shooting.” Yet, these words do not describe my approach to photography. I simply want to observe. Photography keeps me present, grounded in a way that reminds me that each moment deserves my full attention.

 

I tried, again and again, to produce a title for this collection of photographs, but struggled for the words that convey a sense of observation and appreciation rather than taking and capture. Eventually, I realized that, although these photographs do not have people in them, they still share the soul of my new environment. I was still taking portraits. “Portraits of Home.”

 

Home. This word carries so much weight, so much significance. This time in life is an interesting one. We leave our homes, not quite adults but definitely not children, to live new lives in new places. And then, suddenly, we have questions about “home.” Is home the place where I now live: the unfamiliar streets of Cuenca, our blue pickup truck, and the cows on my commute? Is home the place where I’ll return: the school I no longer attend, a living room with new furniture I’ve never seen, and friends and family who will have lived the last year without me as a part of their daily lives? Maybe neither of these places is home. Maybe home is a collection of experiences: family dinners, talking in a car with the radio quiet, and watching movies in the family room. Maybe home is feeling: comfort, familiarity, joy, frustration, and love.

 

Ten photographs – one for each week since I left my home in California. One for each week of the journey to my home in Cuenca. Photographs that attempt to share my story here, the beauty of my everyday moments. Some of these are planned, carefully thought out with my Nikon in hand, resulting in dozens of nearly identical shots with slightly adjusted apertures. Some of these were taken with an iPhone that was quickly pulled from my pocket and shoved back into oblivion after a single photograph. These are not perfect photographs, but all of them share home. At least, home for now.

Maya Foster