GIRLS shows young women who think of a moment
or a personal encounter that had a defining emotional
impact on their life.

I did not confront them with sad stories.

I did not ask them to shed tears in front of the camera.

The starting point of each session was simple.
I asked these girls in complete confidence
“Who are you at this moment, in all your beauty
and vulnerability?” and “Which gaze would you cast
upon those individuals who are responsible for
these feelings?”

Many of them confided in me that they were experiencing
feelings of loss and anguish and that they were finding
it difficult to trust someone again.

I photographed them as they were; with natural light
and without makeup.

GIRLS portrays people who actually exist;
their emotions are real.

All of them, I encountered in real life.

These girls are not models. They don't want
to be portrayed as extraordinarily beautiful;
they only want to be themselves.

I thank them for their trust and their courage.

Try to be good to them.

Danny Van der Elst.