I wrote to say I love you: An open letter on visual intimacy

All photos by Jackie Zhang.

Dear student,

  

School is tough. Work isn’t fun. You don’t get to see your friends as often as you would like — and you start losing touch. Try to balance all three like a juggling act and, eventually, it will all start falling down.

I learned that the hard way this semester, which have probably been the hardest couple of months I’ve had here at Ryerson. It all blew up in my face a couple of weeks ago. Even though I spent most of my time prioritizing school work, I wasn’t doing as well for the time I put in. While the quantity of hours was certainly a lot, the quality of my studying wasn’t doing me any justice. I felt bogged down by the end of most nights, apathetic to what I learned and feeling forced to repeat the next day. The cycle started growing endlessly: school, then work, then school again, and on the one free day I had, I was too tired to do anything for myself.

That was the worst part.

Obviously, school is important and we work to support ourselves, but do you remember the last time you did something for yourself? Or more importantly, for someone else?

In my own efforts to escape my work life, I was lucky enough to photograph some of my friends and how amazing they are.

With this collection of photos, I wanted to pay homage to them. I specifically wanted to highlight physical intimacy in these photos in order to show these connections — being comfortable, close and showing how much it matters to care and be in contact with each other. So, over a series of afternoons, we ventured out into the city, from Kensington Market to Trinity Bellwoods, and up to Christie Pits — where we just hung out, aimlessly. Walking around with no purpose other than to talk, look around and experience the city. We would grab food, stroll in parks, browse shops, forgetting all the things that weighed us down. Nothing more, nothing less. Taking photographs was just an excuse to see them.

When times get tough it can be hard to deal with on your own. Having a support network of people who will be there for you isn’t not easy to come by, so keep them in your life.

You need them. They need you.

Below is the collection of photos featuring some of my own friends. Thanks for letting me do this.

And, thank you for reading.

With love,

Jackie

  

Melanie and Zane in a barn at Riverdale Farm, where there was just enough light next to all of the baby goats.

Melanie and Zane in Trinity Bellwoods Park at the end of autumn. The leaves made for a playful, warm setting.
Jason and Melanie at Trinity Bellwoods on a cool fall morning. We were pretty tired because it was probably the earliest that we’d all woken up in a while, so we needed a little rest.
Zane, Melanie and Jason at Riverdale Park, sitting atop a concrete structure that I “encouraged” them to climb up on.
Kira and Camilla at a thrift shop in Kensington Market browsing around through a colourful selection.
Kira and Camilla sitting on the grass in a small park in Kensington Market as the sun was setting on an autumn evening.
Nikola after quickly grabbing some dinner in Chinatown. The neon lights strewn above the busy street made for a cozy environment.