These Students Let Us Photograph Their Daily Wake Up Routines
All photos by the author

These Students Let Us Photograph Their Daily Wake Up Routines

Waking up is the most honest part of the day.
September 15, 2017, 12:00pm

When I first set out to photograph university students getting out of bed in the morning, I wanted to capture people before anything else had happened in their day. They allowed me into environments few get to see them in—hitting the snooze button, making coffee, ripping on a bong, scrolling through Facebook, and taking a first look out the window.

I didn't learn the best routine for waking up in the morning, but I did see people in wide-ranging states of comfort, with very different ideas about how their days would go down. I realized the first moment of someone's morning can tell you a lot about them. Or maybe they just wanted me to leave so they could make their coffee.

All photos by Thomas Skrlj.


I have a lot of energy, which keeps me from going to bed at a reasonable hour. I tend to go-go-go until I pass out suddenly, and I somehow wake up with full energy as well. I like to spend my morning routine setting a calm and peaceful tone. I ignore my phone and enjoy breakfast and coffee—two of my favourite things ever. Ideally I'll get some sunshine on my face, too!


I've been couch hopping for over two months which has caused me to really have no routine at all—I'm just thankful to have a roof over my head. Morning routines mean nothing to me now. I just wake up and am ready for a new day.


I always wake up way earlier than I need to. If I don't have the space to take my time in the morning and have a little me time then my whole day is thrown off.


Most days, I hit snooze every five minutes on my alarms for an hour before I decide that it's finally time to get out of bed. I tell myself the night before that I'll get up early and do stuff, like make a solid breakfast, workout, or even just make my bed, but my morning self prefers sleep. [When] you took my photo, I hit snooze until you knocked on my door.


For as far back as I can remember I have always been a morning person. Even on days when I so desperately want to sleep in, I still can't manage to do so past 10 AM. To me, there is something undoubtedly serene about being the first to rise. I specifically set my alarm for hours before I have to be out the door every day just so I can experience that serenity to myself. However, as much as I utilize my morning routine as a tool to provide me with strength throughout the day, there is also a lingering vulnerability that comes with waking up with the sun. Mornings are a time for raw beauty, reflection, and the uncertainty of the day ahead. The AM is two-fold, and I think there is something to be said for that balance.

Jennifer Doan

It's in the moments before I am completely awake that I am happiest.

During the day, I have two jobs. I'm a full-time student. I get involved in projects and end up doing a lot of work for a lot of different people. Some days are so physically and mentally exhausting, there is no room left for me to breathe.

But before I am completely awake, I can indulge in being somebody else. No one can expect anything from me just yet… there is nothing to remember, so there are no burdens to carry. The dead are still alive. My fears don't exist. Living feels simple.

Mornings are sobering, to say the least. Everything that was, still is. Whether I like it or not, I am still here, so I pull myself back together and I do it all again.


I base my mornings and the time I wake up off of when I have to leave the house. How long will it take me to shower, dry my hair, makeup, outfit... the list goes on, but time ticks away. Is it stressful? With enough pre-planning—nope!


I've learned, and am continuously learning to embrace the idea that vulnerability is strength. I think my mornings involve more mental 'getting ready' than I realize, and the more comfortable I can be with myself, the more comfortably and confidently I can move through the days of my life.


You wake up with a little bit of this and a little bit of that, get used to it.


My main thought these days when I wake up is that I wish my boyfriend was still waking up next to me. But we were still dating when the photo was taken so if that doesn't make sense then really during that time the first thing that got me out of bed was an empty stomach and thoughts of what I had in the fridge to eat. Followed by too much time spent on my phone before actually making my way to the kitchen.


After my alarm clock wakes me up, my morning starts off by scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. It's probably not best for my well-being to have perfectly edited photos as the first thing I see when I wake up, but it's a bad habit I've formed, and am currently trying to break. After I eventually get out of bed, I have to make my bed. I once read a quote where it's like, 'Making your bed sets off the mood for the rest of the day. Hopefully it inclines you to be productive and positive. But if at the end of the day everything went wrong, there's nothing better than getting into a nicely made bed', something like that. That stuck with me, and now I make my bed every day. After that, I start the process of getting ready. When I look in the mirror with my glasses, retainer, hair in a bun, before all the makeup and hair products, I try to say some affirmations, or at least give myself a little pep talk. Like sure, mascara and lipstick make me look more presentable, but I like the person I am with or without all the changes. I think it's important to remind myself of that before I start with the whole beauty routine and outfit options. Then after that, I eat breakfast if there's time, but usually it's just a granola bar and I'm out the door.


We live in such a fast-paced society. I'm always trying to find moments where I can essentially hit pause on the world. The morning is a great time for this. Even if you have to commute and you're stuck on the TTC for a while like me, you can always get yourself in a comfy state of mind for the trip into your busy day.


Most mornings I wake up and first feel fatigued at the very fact I need to get out of bed and then that usually fades away to moments of gratitude. The fact is my feet hit the ground and I'm able to do the things I set out for that day. Whether its writing an exam, starting the first day of a new job or being able to have time for myself and my loved ones. Then I usually I think about what's for breakfast.


I'm a night owl, not a morning person. While I'd always take the chance to sleep in, living with my roommate has showed me how nice a quiet morning can be. Good company and a good cup of coffee are necessary before noon.


I used to be such an early riser. I still get up before 8 AM most days but that's not early in my mind. Getting outside first thing is pretty much the best thing to wake me up...and good coffee. I think the attitude you wake up with becomes your posture for the day, so lift your face to the sun and be thankful.

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