Since moving to Columbia, I have been surrounded by people that I pass by every day, with very little intention of saying more than a passing hello. When this project was announced, I saw it as a way to push myself out of my comfort zone and get to know the people who make this city what it is.
After I made the photo of my next door neighbor, I went and made a print for them and gave it to them as a goodbye gift, because I moved to a different part of town shortly after the project ended. Seeing their happiness and appreciation when they saw the photo was easily the most rewarding part of the project.
Even though I make a lot of photos with strangers in them, it was still difficult approaching people and asking them for a photo, due to the intimacy of making portraits versus a street photo of a random passerby.
I made photos of next door neighbors, friends, and strangers. As I worked on this project, I expanded what I viewed as neighbors. While my next door neighbor is my actual neighbor, my friends are the neighbors of my personal life, and the strangers that I made photos of represent the idea of this entire city being my neighborhood. What makes up a neighborhood is more than just houses and apartments. Neighborhood's are the people and stories that walk past me and say hello with a smile that help give depth and color to the world around me.
There's value in getting to know the people who neighbor my personal circle, because everyone's story is worth listening to. Learning these stories helps give rise to new relationships and friendships and adds meaning to daily interactions with strangers.