The days of neighbors and parents curmudgeonly yelling at kids to “get off my lawn,” have given way for the age of “screenagers” using iPads to do homework and Melania Trump making it her civic duty to stop cyberbullying. In this digital age, we can have leisure, education, ridicule, validation, pleasure and human connection from our fingertips. While this is hardly the revelation of a century, it is easy to fall into the ridicule of our dependency on digital or oogle over Google. Dig a bit deeper and you’ll find people who are using the Internet and digital platforms for more than attempts at becoming social influencers or earn funding for their KickStarter campaign. For digital creators like Syracuse University junior, Adham El Sharkawy, platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Flickr act as more than just a storage space or validation-seeking platform, but rather time capsule and personal obligation for self-realization and expression of self.
Sharkawy’s “365 Day Photo Project” heavily relies on a his seemingly natural talent for photography paired with emerging Photoshop skills and a desire to create something that can evolves with him. A time consuming endeavor, Sharkawy shoots and edits each photo he publishes every day, sometimes taking him six hours or more for the final project. Though he admits that it has consumed any free time he has and thinks about it before he goes to bed and after he wakes up, it has evolved from a project focused on the photographs to a time capsule for his memories and moments.
Nearly 60 days into the project, Sharkawy has found more meaning in this daily dose of self-meditation. While some could surmise the self-portrait series is a glorified selfie session with a high quality camera and a tripod, Sharkawy shatters any concerns of vapidity by placing a heightened importance on the message of the photograph for viewers. By placing an as much emphasis on the meaning of the caption as the photo itself, Sharkawy aims to share the stories, feelings and ideas he had in his head when taking the photo or even just visualizing what the final product could be.
Acknowledging this, Sharkawy admits that his past year has been “realizing a lot of different things, coming to terms with a lot of different things, letting go of a lot of different things.” I guess when Kylie Jenner said it would be a year of realizing things, she really knew something, didn’t she? While Jenner and Sharkawy may have a mutual affinity for Instagram and sharing finely tuned images to their social networks, Sharkawy’s stylistic choices showcase a softer or more vulnerable side that is not often seen on social networks typically saturated with braggarts and those looking for validation. Sharkawy uses his photo series to become more in tune with himself, figuring out who he is, what he is, what he wants to do with with him and ultimately with his life.
While the vulnerability seen his photos may make some believe he is weak in some regards, Sharkawy believes that there is a lot of power in vulnerability and that sharing it and acknowledging it can help oneself leave it in the past to help continue on with life with a more positive outlook. The series has helped Sharkawy, who once used to keep many of his thoughts and worries bottled up in such a way that he found to not be productive. This creative outlet affords him the opportunity to go out to try new things and not worry about if they do not turn out as he first imagined them, teaching him a lesson in fate, letting time, feeling and destiny work in tandem to create the final product.
The project, though a recent decision, has allowed Sharkawy to focus on personal as well as creative concepts that he has been curious about for years. Interested in levitation, he wondered about it how to execute a photo such as some of the ones he has been taking himself recently. His decision to move forward with it ultimately came from newfound confidence from the project. Not worried about failing, he uses each photo as an opportunity to test the limits of his curiosity and ability. The devotion and passion Sharkawy exhibited when talking about the future of the project, what he hopes to accomplish and the potential possibilities leave the next 290-some days left for even wilder and beautiful creations.
To see and follow the rest of his photo series, click here.