Admire. Brat. Best Friend. Love

Originally published via Wordpress July 19, 2018.

A chronicle of sweet southern summers, country swagger, and blood born friendship.

In late August of 2017, my friend and coworker, Charla, gave me the privilege of photographing her two teenage daughters.


"I know this is bad but me and Leah always jam to that song 'Red Neck Woman' by Gretchen Wilson. And how Leah loves to wear overalls and how she acts just like her and everything in that song reminds me of her because she ain't no "high class broad."

The day I left Leah and Shay's house, we had just spent half an hour after the shoot taking the fabric strips out of Leah's waist-long hair; she was going hunting.

Leah had two sides- the pretty, polished, dolled up side the world saw through the lens of Instagram, and the barefoot, backwoods side that kept her nails bit down and her overalls on hand. She was a little rebel, free spirit and her momma could hardly keep her straight. (I know because I work with her.) But no matter what was going on inside, to the outside world she would always appear together.


Her younger sister Shay was the opposite. Charla called her Mama Shay. She was careful, conscientious, and considerate. Her smooth, dark skin made her look Latina and her acrylic nails were always kept nice. She loved art, her camera, and wanted to be a math teacher. The baby of divorce, Shay was the peace keeper but wouldn't hesitate to speak her mind if called for. She gave no shits what people thought.


Together, the girls were a beautiful concoction of the limitless spirit of youth.


My intent was to do a shoot that showcased their natural beauty sans the heavy, contoured makeup that makes girls look far beyond their years nowadays. I wanted to capture that fleeting, playful spirit that lingered in their waning summer days of girlhood.

These collages were created from photos I took with a disposable camera alongside the "nice" photos taken with my Nikon. The were blown out and overexposed, but I felt that they captured a genuine humanness that the nice looking ones didn't.  To name this series, I asked the girls to each tell me the first two words that came to mind when the thought of sisterhood. Shay responded "Admire" and "Brat," and Leah said "Best friend" and "love."


Admire. Brat. Best Friend. Love. 2018. hand cut collage and hand-dyed paper.


Tatyana Grechina