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Press Clippings

‘TINDERELLA’: THE STORY OF ONE NYC PHOTOGRAPHER AND HER MANY TINDER DATES | September 8, 2014 | By Jenna Garrett, Feature Shoot

‘Tinderella’ Is The Tale Of One Artist And The 17 First Dates She Found Online | Huffington Post

How One Australian Woman Turned Tinder Into A Successful New York Art Project | October 15, 2015 | Koren Helbig, Junkee

Lost At E Minor’s Young Creative Australians awards: Introducing the nominations for the PHOTOGRAPHY category


Video

Kirra Cheers discusses “going viral” with her Tinder date portraits at The BlowUp NYC event | Decemeber 10, 2015

BBC Interview about Digital Dating | January, 2017

BBC Instagram Export from Kirra Cheers on Vimeo.


‘TINDERELLA’: THE STORY OF ONE NYC PHOTOGRAPHER AND HER MANY TINDER DATES

September 8, 2014 – By Jenna Garrett

Dating is hard. As the modern world becomes faster, more complicated, less personal and more digital than ever, it seems an even greater challenge to find a genuine connection with another person. Aussie photographer Kirra Cheers braved all the awkwardness, intrigue and excitement of online dating, becoming a protagonist of contemporary love for her series Tinderella. The 26-year-old used Tinder, the infamous hook up mobile app, to meet dates and then photograph them all across New York City. Seventeen dates and two months later, Cheers was exhausted and introspective with a rolodex of romantic ‘firsts’. We spoke with her about sexting, role reversal, and how on earth you go about asking your date for a portrait.

Briefly explain Tinder and the culture surrounding it. “Tinder is an online dating app famous for it’s hookup culture. Users can select and dismiss partners based on physical appearance.”

What initially inspired you to begin this project? “As co-founder of the Brooklyn Collective – I was curating and showing in a group show depicting ‘Modern Romance’. I wanted my take on the theme to have more of a personal approach, putting myself into the project and documenting my experience with online dating, more specifically with Tinder. The purpose of the project was not necessarily the resulting images but more a documentation of the journey.”

Were your dates taken aback by you asking to photograph them? When did you ask them? “Initially I intended to inform each person of my project before the date but found I had a much higher success rate explaining the project in person. Of the 17 first dates I went on over a two-month period – 11 allowed me to take their portrait for the project. Although people were generally open minded, I was called a predator on more than one occasion. I felt that the decision to allow me to take their portrait was a direct reflection of their level of self-esteem. Those with high self-esteem felt confident with their identity and appearance as an individual and had no issue being compared to others within a larger body of work.”

How did taking your dates’ photos change traditional gender roles? Was it strange being in that position? “Most people wanted me to confirm my interest in them as a person and not simply as an art project. In this way, I saw it as a swapping of traditional gender roles – posing the question that perhaps men and women aren’t all that different. Change the power dynamic and you achieve the same result. I found the role reversal to be empowering. A mentor suggested that this process of objectifying men was similar to collecting butterflies – a comparison I greatly enjoy.” Your project includes images of your dates as well as some fairly vulgar texts that you received.

Why was it important to include these in the series? “I wanted the project to be an honest documentation of my experience. Some people use the anonymity of the online dating world to become someone they aspire to be. A version of themselves they otherwise wouldn’t have the confidence to play in person. That perceived ideal might be more vulgar, more charming, more aggressive – everyone has their own agenda and Tinder offers it’s users a platform to live out these sometimes dark fantasies.”

What was one of the most surprising aspects of making this project? “Many of my dates ended in platonic friendships. Several people uploaded the portraits I took of them to their Tinder profiles and reported a significant increase in their Tinder success. I am happy to have been a part of this process.”

How did you feel at the beginning of this project compared to the end? “First dates are hard enough but the added pressure of the project made me more nervous than usual. Putting myself in that position night in, night out was exhausting both emotionally and physically. Although initially I found the process exhilarating, towards the end – I couldn’t help feel like it was an interview process and I experienced what I refer to as ‘Tinder Hangover’. Now that I have had time to distance myself emotionally from the work, I see it as a fascinating social experiment with the scope for significant personal introspection. ”

Did you hope to find a compatible match from this process? “I wanted to approach the project with a level of honesty that opened me up to the possibility of experiencing a genuine connection with the people I was dating. Although I found several compatible matches, given the nature of the project – I didn’t have time to explore these connections beyond the initial meeting. Perhaps now – I can revisit these feelings and explore them at a deeper level.”

Do you have any strange stories that came about while working on this project? “I made the decision to include audio of an entire date as supporting material. I didn’t want to inform the date I was recording them, believing it would ruin the authenticity. It was a decision I struggled with ethically but felt that as a result of my fondness to talk about myself it would be more revealing of me than the other person. I decided to use my iPhone but needed to test its capabilities in a noisy bar room situation. It was the first time I’d attempted to record audio and I was on a date with a finance guy who was recalling his glory days as a mathlete. Forty-five minutes into his rant about his math adventures I got bored of feigning flattery and decided to check my phone to see if it was still recording. He caught sight of my screen and asked if I had a moving wallpaper. I panicked – said yes and awkwardly changed the topic. Still reeling from the fact my cover had been blown – I over compensated with kindness for the duration of the date. He let it go but messaged me later in the night – enquiring as to why I recorded our date. I explained it was a test. Apparently satisfied with my explanation, he asked me out on a second date. I suggested that perhaps my behavior on our first didn’t warrant a second. I believe we parted on less than satisfactory terms and he declined to come to the exhibition.”

What do you think Tinderella says about contemporary dating today? “In a modern world where time is such a precious commodity – online dating has become the norm. Although I am aware that it can be successful, I would suggest that perhaps it’s not healthy to ‘shop’ for a partner. Attraction is based upon so much more than physical appearance and an online application can’t capture that story.”

Do you have any strange stories that came about while working on this project? “I made the decision to include audio of an entire date as supporting material. I didn’t want to inform the date I was recording them, believing it would ruin the authenticity. It was a decision I struggled with ethically but felt that as a result of my fondness to talk about myself it would be more revealing of me than the other person. I decided to use my iPhone but needed to test its capabilities in a noisy bar room situation. It was the first time I’d attempted to record audio and I was on a date with a finance guy who was recalling his glory days as a mathlete. Forty-five minutes into his rant about his math adventures I got bored of feigning flattery and decided to check my phone to see if it was still recording. He caught sight of my screen and asked if I had a moving wallpaper. I panicked – said yes and awkwardly changed the topic. Still reeling from the fact my cover had been blown – I over compensated with kindness for the duration of the date. He let it go but messaged me later in the night – enquiring as to why I recorded our date. I explained it was a test. Apparently satisfied with my explanation, he asked me out on a second date. I suggested that perhaps my behavior on our first didn’t warrant a second. I believe we parted on less than satisfactory terms and he declined to come to the exhibition.”

What do you think Tinderella says about contemporary dating today? “In a modern world where time is such a precious commodity – online dating has become the norm. Although I am aware that it can be successful, I would suggest that perhaps it’s not healthy to ‘shop’ for a partner. Attraction is based upon so much more than physical appearance and an online application can’t capture that story.”


‘Tinderella’ Is The Tale Of One Artist And The 17 First Dates She Found Online

Once upon a time, a New York-based artist swimming in the deep end of online dating started a photo series. In it, she documented her experiences meeting and connecting with men and women, over the course of two months and 17 first dates. She snapped a portrait of each individual — or, at least, those willing to step in front of her lens — in a project that eventually became known as “Tinderella.”

Could there be a better title for today’s modern romance?

The artist is Australian photographer Kirra Cheers. In devising “Tinderella,” she approached her work as a means of opening herself up to the possibility of connecting with someone online. Her images were meant to capture not only the person being photographed, but also the dynamic between the artist and her date — how tired or inebriated they were, what the level of physical and mental attraction was between them.

The result is a collection of casual and honest black-and-white portraits that, when paired with snippets of conversations Cheers conducted over Tinder, reveal a surprising breadth of personality. While 32-year-old Samuel stares irreverently at the camera, with a palpable level of self-confidence, 25-year-old Alex giggles at the viewer, caught in a moment of where-do-I-put-my-hands.

And then there’s 34-year-old Jay, represented only by his Tinder “About” section, which reads: “I hope to meet a female who will allow me to buy them thigh high stockings and let me admire your legs.”

“I never pressured anyone into having their photo taken,” Cheers writes in a statement on her website. “The most common concern was that of being objectified. Most people wanted me to confirm my interest in them as a person and not simply as an art project. In this way, I saw it as a swapping of traditional gender roles –- posing the question that perhaps men and women aren’t all that different?”

We wondered how, as a woman casting a photographer’s gaze on multiple men, this sort of conventional gender role reversal felt.

“I found the role reversal to be empowering,” Cheers explained to HuffPost. “A mentor suggested that this process of objectifying men was similar to collecting butterflies — a comparison I greatly enjoy. It is my hope, that people look beyond the initial voyeuristic appeal and see the project as a social commentary on modern romance and how we connect with each other in a digital world.”

Empowering and exhausting. “Dealing with my own emotions and the emotions of 17 others in such a short period of time was exhausting,” she adds on her website. “At the conclusion of the project, I experienced what I referred to as ‘Tinder Hangover’ and although I believe the app to be a great way to meet people in a modern world where time is such a precious commodity, I am happy to no longer be an active member of the Tinder community.


How One Australian Woman Turned Tinder Into A Successful New York Art Project

By Koren Helbig, 15/10/2014, Junkee

Ahhh, Tinder: that veritable slush pit of random dick pics and crude sexual advances. Would it be possible, wondered Aussie photographer Kirra Cheers, to find genuine human connections via a mobile application infamous for hook-ups?

Earlier this year, Cheers began furiously swiping right, and within two months managed to chalk up an exhausting 17 first dates in her adopted home of New York, a city particularly enamored with digital dating. “It was completely insane. I was booking dinnertime dates and lunchtime dates on the one day sometimes,” Cheers, 26, says.

Each time, she fielded a special little moment of awkward by asking to take her date’s photograph. The result is Tinderella, a series of eleven candid black and white portraits — six dates refused to be photographed — that, paired with snippets of Tinder conversations and even an audio recording of an entire date are oddly meaningful and revealing.

“I was called a predator on more than one occasion,” Cheers says of the process. “But I felt the photographs were an indication of the dynamic between me and the person.

“The resulting portrait depends on how comfortable we were, how attracted we were to one-another — even how much we’d had to drink. Asking to take their photograph often actually increased the connection, like I was inviting them into my world.”

Cheers wanted her work to be an honest documentation on how we connect in the digital age, which meant fending off some particularly ridiculous advances.

Like Matt, who felt that “charm my sack” was a heart-winning opening line. “It was fascinating that they would even try with that,” Cheers says. “I just think there’s something sexy about a slow play. Tinder kind of removes the romance and you rush through the entire process, which isn’t something that I particularly enjoy.”

With men as the majority of her dates, Cheers noticed a subtle power shift, as if her camera lens was reversing traditional gender roles. Her subjects began questioning whether she was actually interested in them as a person or simply as an art project.

“So often women are seen as objects and ask those sort of questions,” she says. “It was really empowering to see it from the other side of the fence.”

On Success, And Taking Risks

Cheers is an extremely talented photographer — at 24 she was named among Rangefinder magazine’s 30 rising stars in wedding photography — but fell into the craft almost by accident. She was given the subject thanks to a high school administrative error, and discovered her talent after letting her classmates cheat off her work.

Everyone got A’s. “From that point I was like: ‘Maybe this is something I’m good at’,” she says. Born in Queensland and growing up in Adelaide, her love of travel was inspired by her “gypsy parents”; Cheers moved to Byron Bay for two years before a dream job offer with top wedding photographer Christian Oth, which sent her halfway across the world to New York City in 2012. Problem was, the job kind of turned out to be a nightmare.

Feeling trapped and burnt out but determined not to let NYC chew her up and spit her out, Cheers started to get creative. She connected with fellow photographer Spencer Lum and together they launched The Brooklyn Collective last year, bringing together 11 handpicked wedding photographers to champion and mentor one-another.

The collective launched with a bang in August, with a group exhibition entitled Modern Romance. About 400 people turned up, including some of the men featured in Cheers’ Tinderella project. “There was a moment when I stood back and watched them talk to one another … that was kind of intense,” she says. “It was kind of like a dream, all of these beautiful men all in one room.”

On top of all this awesomeness, Cheers often gallivants around the world on all-expenses-paid press trips to far-flung places like Taipei and The Greek Islands for her travel blog, Tempting Alice.

“People tell me all the time how lucky I am. It has nothing to do with luck. I actively pursue this lifestyle for myself. No one really gave me these opportunities, I’ve always created them,” she says.

“You have to take risks and there’s no point where making that change is not going to be scary. You have to just jump off the cliff and go for it. You don’t really know how it’s going to turn out but you at least need to push yourself out there.”

What’s Next?

So did she find her happily ever after? Cheers says she felt a connection with several men but the frenetic pace of the project didn’t allow her to explore those feelings. “A lot of them developed into platonic friendships, which has been super positive. I don’t know about whether they’ll evolve into more but I’m definitely open to that,” she says.

Either way, Cheers plans to extend Tinderella to include interviews with her dates, and potentially a comic book. She’s working on a related project for next year, too, in which she’ll advertise on Craigslist for someone willing to volunteer a list of their previous sexual partners, before attempting to contact and photograph past lovers.

“My hope is that I’ll build an idea of who this person could be through the eyes of all their past lovers,” she says.


Lost At E Minor’s Young Creative Australians awards: Introducing the nominations for the PHOTOGRAPHY category

Co-founder of The Brooklyn Collective, Kirra Cheers is an award-winning photographer who has consistently impressed us with her extraordinary photography work. Her images have garnered the attention of publications worldwide and her work has been published by The Huffington Post, The New York Times and ABC.

How did you get into photography? Do you remember the first set of photos you took that you were proud of that made you want to follow your passion?

‘I actually got [into] photography at school through an administrative error. I often look back and wonder what I would’ve done if fortune hadn’t fallen my way. To this day, I’m still proud of the first roll of black and white film I took. It was basic street photography but I had 22 strong exposures and handed them out to the kids in my class to submit. We all got As.

‘That was the point where I thought I might have found something I was good at. I’d always been creative, but it wasn’t until I picked up a camera that I felt it all came together.

‘I had a wonderful photography teacher at school who took a particular interest in my work. He gave me a camera, found me work experience with a local photographer, and even helped me fill out my forms for TAFE where I went on to study an Advanced Diploma in Commercial Photography. Barry Kelly retired from Brighton secondary school last year, but he remains a good friend and enjoys following my career’.

Much of your photography tells a story. How much of your work is pre-planned and how much is spur-of-the-moment?

‘A mentor once told me I was comfortable with the uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s just a matter of placing yourself in a situation and being open to the journey. I see myself as the narrator; I provide the framework but the story is largely driven by the characters involved. It’s like having a starting point but not knowing where it’s going to end.

‘When I was working on Tinderella, some of my dates would end in sprawling adventures through the night. I had a “say yes” policy that would allow the story to evolve. Sometimes I would wind up taking their portrait at 4am at a diner somewhere in downtown Manhattan, trying to operate my camera after a marathon eight-hour date. It made for an interesting few months’.

You moved to New York from Australia to pursue your passion. What kind of challenges did you face? How did you grow as a photographer?

‘What wasn’t challenging? I moved from Byron Bay to New York – polar opposites in every sense. Even getting into the country was hard. Being allowed to stay – even harder.

‘Initially, I was working for a studio that sponsored my visa. Although the credibility and exposure was good for my career, I found the studio environment to be toxic. I’d moved to New York with a strong sense of self and wasn’t about to forget who I was on account of others. But they were sponsoring my visa and I felt like they owned me.

‘Eventually, I partnered with Spencer Lum, launched The Brooklyn Collective as a corporation, and sponsored my own visa. I walked away from the studio with my autonomy intact. It was a turning point for my career and my life in New York.

‘Building a life for myself on the other side of the world was hard but putting myself so far out of my comfort zone helped me grow as a creative and a person. I used to feel like there was a disconnect between my work and who I was. These days they are one and the same’.

Tell us what inspired you to start the project Tinderella?

‘To launch The Brooklyn Collective (a group of photographers exploring the genre within the fine art realm), I was curating a show on “Modern Romance”. Tinderella was my take on modern romance and what it meant to me. Since moving to New York, I had been using the popular dating app Tinder to meet people. The piece documented my experience with the app and served as a social commentary about how we connect with one another in a digital world. The body of work was exhibited at Sky Gallery in Brooklyn in August of 2014′.