A version of this article originally appeared on Broadly Denmark. It has been edited and condensed.
“I’ve trawled through Facebook, Instagram, and Tinder. I’ve swiped left and right till I felt sick,” Marie Hyld says about her experience with dating in the digital age. The 24-year-old photographer believes that the superficial nature of social media is affecting the way we interact with other people in real life. An obvious example is the way dating culture has evolved: We strive to maintain the perfectly manicured image of ourselves that we present on Tinder when we meet people in real life, which makes it harder for us to be truly open and present in our encounters, she says. This thinking inspired her new art project, Lifecontruction, a series of intimate portraits with strangers she met on Tinder.
To start, Hyld decided to reopen her Tinder account and adapt it to suit the project. In her bio, she detailed how she was interested in visiting the people she matched with and wanted to take their photograph, staging the whole scene as if they were a couple in love or had been in a relationship for years. She was also clear about the fact that the photos would be made public, so if you matched with her you were basically signing up for the project. “I just started swiping away, and it was really interesting to see the people who were into the idea and accepted my proposal. I pretty much matched with everyone I found. They were all into the idea,” she recalls.
In the bottom left corner of every photo, Hyld notes how long she's known her date—the amount of time that passed between them meeting for the first time and her snapping a picture of the two posing as if they knew each other intimately. Broadly caught up with Hyld to ask her about the process of staging and photographing such intimate shots.
Broadly: Did you have a clear idea in mind for how you wanted to shoot the scene before meeting your dates?
Marie Hyld: I usually let my surroundings inspire me. I had never seen the place before showing up. That was also one the exciting aspects of this project. I never knew what I was walking into. I couldn’t plan anything, so I just had to go with it. One of my greatest personal ambitions in doing this project has been about letting go and going with whatever feels right.
I think we lack that face-to-face time today, we’re never really present in our interactions. As I see it, it’s getting worse and social media is largely to blame for it. It’s ironic that my project basically couldn’t exist without Tinder.
Two photos from the series in particular stuck with me, one of which features you and a Tinder match dressed in latex. How did that one come about?
As far as I recall, his name on Tinder was "Mr. BDSM" and I thought it was really cool that he was willing to just be himself around me. I also felt like I needed a "wow" moment in my series—a real eye opener—where someone was putting themselves out there and being vulnerable. I told him that I wasn’t into BDSM personally, but that I was working on a photo project.
When he opened the door, he was wearing normal clothes except for a pair of latex socks. He had a warm look in his eyes and he showed me his wardrobe, which was full of latex outfits. He lent me one that had belonged to his ex. I needed to rub myself with oil just to get into the outfit. Then he did the same, and we laughed quite a bit at the whole thing. He showed me the hole in his suit meant for his dick and talked about how it’s impossible for the skin to breathe in a full body suit and how uncomfortable that is. We snapped a photo for my mom. She was worried about me going to meet a man I didn’t know. This all happened on a Tuesday afternoon and I only did it because I was open and embraced the opportunity.
The other photo I noticed is the one of you and your date sitting in front of the computer. Why did you choose that setup?
He was really into computers and his whole apartment was basically decorated and furnished to accommodate that. I imagine that it would probably play a big part in our hypothetical relationship. It was one of those moments where I just let myself be inspired by my surroundings and what I found in that apartment.