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The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

Alana Cummings photographs the nature of girlhood

One of Alana Cummings’ photographs is set to be displayed in the Institute of Contemporary Art’s new exhibit, “As You Are: Beauty and the Human Form.”

Spending time scrolling on Instagram is a past time shared by many, but it is associated with poorer satisfaction with body image and self-esteem according to a study by the National Library of Medicine. However, amidst all of the filtered pictures of people’s lives stands senior Alana Cummings’ photos that tackle girlhood, beauty and above all, self-love.

Cummings found her passion for photography in art teacher Lori Lynn’s Photography Foundations class. Since then, she has continued with her photography and plans to pursue it in college. Cummings showcases her work through her Instagram account “Transient Narratives.” While her friends and their rooms are the subjects of Cumming’s photos, it is her encouragement and kindness behind the camera that make her photos shine.

Cummings said that when she first started photography her photos were focused on landscapes, but over the summer she began doing portraits. She continued making portraits in her Independent Study in photography where she worked on “Sacred Spaces,” a project which aims to capture girls’ bedrooms in a way that highlights their beauty and individuality. She said the series was inspired by her interest in girlhood.

“I’m trying to capture the identities of these girls in this current moment and preserve that,” Cummings said. “I’d love to see what they think about these photos when they look back on them 20 years later.”

Cummings showcases many friends in her project, including senior Molly Kleiner, who she has known since preschool. Kleiner said that “Sacred Spaces” allowed her to learn more about other high school students and how each persons’ bedroom was unique to them.

“A lot of the people are my friends, and I haven’t been inside their rooms before, so I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is so cool!’” Kleiner said.

During the photo shoot, Kleiner said that Cummings gave her nothing but support.

“It can be a little awkward, but Alana’s your biggest hype person. She’ll give you pose ideas and freedom to do whatever. But the whole time she was like, ‘Yes, that’s so good. I love that,’” Kleiner said.

Another one of Cummings’ friends, senior Maxine Bidmead, said that Cumming’s helped ease her nerves by giving her genuine compliments.

“It was just a really relaxing setting, and she’s really good at making you feel comfortable. I’m the type of person who never likes to take pictures. I always feel ugly. But she made everyone feel beautiful and you can really tell that in the pictures,” Bidmead said.

Cummings said she didn’t want any of her subjects to talk down to themselves because she believes all the girls she photographed are beautiful in their unique ways.

“I’ve gotten a couple of negative self-talk sort of things. And that’s honestly part of the reason why I’m doing this project,” Cummings said. “I want to encourage girls to look at themselves in a positive light. I don’t want to hear any of that.”

Cummings has now created a printed zine of her “Sacred Spaces” photos that are available to buy for $5. She said that creating “Sacred Spaces,” has taught her about how her identity overlaps with other girls’ identities and she hopes that people will feel the same way when looking at her photos.

“What I want is for people to see the images of them and the images of other girls in their rooms and to feel a sense of unity,” Cummings said. “And to feel like that idea of girlhood is something that unites us rather than makes us jealous of each other.”

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