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Seeing in Twos: Modern Intimacy by Georgia Hilmer

To kick-start our exploration of #ModernIntimacy, image-maker Georgia Hilmer considers the realities of romance in this exclusive photo series

In an age where “swipe right” and “swipe left” are terms that have become synonymous with romance (of sorts) and there are more dating apps than you can shake a selfie stick at, there is plenty to be said for the documentation of true love: the shared toothbrushes, plant-watering rotas and messy kitchens of actual, IRL couples – the bits that exist without artful arrangement or VSCOcam filters. In honour of’s exploration of modern intimacy in the lead up to Valentine’s Day, photographer (slash model, slash Instagram aficionado) Georgia Hilmer has created a series “inspired by seeing friends fall in love around me; watching all these couples bliss out and break each other’s hearts in order to build these beautiful little worlds for each other.” Her depiction of these worlds and the pairs that inhabit them – “so at ease that they’re skating the edge of recklessly vulnerable” is a brilliantly personal examination of the realities of young love and its yielding negotiation of boundaries.

On the faux-intimacy of social media feeds...
“I think Internet era faux-intimacy ultimately prolongs the first-date game we all play, where we pretend we have our shit together, that we never repeat an outfit, that we never get zits, that we are perfect and whole and charming all the time. But eventually that facade dissolves and we show each other that yeah, we wake up with morning breath like any human, and sure, sometimes we forget to do laundry. Instagram isn’t going to destroy us, but it’s going to let us lie to ourselves a little more for a little longer in every relationship. I think, if anything, it will make genuineness and sincerity more valuable.”

On pixel personalities...
“I’m all for meeting people where they are, whether that means making small talk in a coffee shop or falling for someone’s Instagram feed. There’s some genuine part of us in all of those representations and iterations of self (Catfish excluded, maybe.) I think the real work happens in person though. You can’t short-cut connections; pixels can’t make you a new personality, and no romance is going to last fed on wifi and selfies alone.”

On capturing chaos...
“The Internet allows us all to present our best selves, we can filter and Photoshop and crop reality into a parallel, Pinterest universe. But we’ve always edited ourselves for public life (hey Erving Goffman,) social media has just exploded and amplified that game. What I wanted to do with my images was catch the chaos we usually push just out of frame. That, to me, is where the energy and honesty of real intimacy lies. It’s dirty and messy and raw and real; it’s the space that holds the hurt and the happiness we all want deep down.”

On film versus iPhone photography...
“Shooting film is the best way for me to slow down and go with the flow: frames feel more valuable and there’s no opportunity to stop and flip through the photos I just shot. So at the same time that it makes me deliberate and meticulous, it also prevents me from interrupting my instincts. With the iPhone or a digital camera, I can be careless and distracted, take a dozen okay photos instead of focusing to get one that’s quality. Internet romance feels similarly scattered: you can have a zillion profiles on a ton of platforms and never commit. I wanted to honor these couples and their investment in each other the best way I know how, by paying close attention to them.”

With thanks to Lexie Smith, Eric Oglander, Athena Wilson and Tucker vander Wyden