Portrait photography essay Cindy

Using subtle references to the Chinese Cinderella fairytale this photographic essay explores that moment between two people, when one asks for their relationship to extend from a private digital correspondence to a physical encounter. The emotional crossroad where hope, desire, doubt and trust collide.

“You’re Cinderella, girl with night-chilled feet. I wonder… would you like to meet?” Texts our prince.

Would you? If you were in Cinderella’s shoe.

In 1995 I started work at a Hobart advertising agency producing TV commercials.

Back then there was the Intra-net, the World Wide Web, AltaVista and dial-up modems. A few years into my job at the agency, my boss Fay returned from holidaying in the Maldives. I arrived at the office as normal where Fay casually announced that she was now married – I hadn’t even known that she had been dating.

Turns out that Fay had met a guy from Iceland called Damon through an online chat room. They’d exchanged messages for several months, then talked on the phone for a few more before deciding to meet in the Maldives. Their agreement being, if they liked each other’s company in person, they’d get married. And that’s what happened.

I’ve always thought how brave this was of Fay. Sure Damon too, but for a single mum to fly thousands of miles to meet a guy in a foreign country, who she’d never met in person before? Pretty risky.

20 years later, meeting online then moving from a digital relationship to a physical interaction is commonplace, but is it any safer? Catfish right?

This thought, that not all online relationships are what they appear, led me to embedding the Cinderella fairytale into the narrative for my photographic essay. From a modern perception Cinderella also tells the story of a Catfish moment, after all, isn’t Cindy actually pretending to be someone she’s not?

Thanks for following this story, to the end of its first chapter anyway.