Michaela Cusin

With this work, I am interested in the ways we hide parts of ourselves that may be too tender, too vulnerable, or too private to share. We present ourselves to the world in a way that hides our true character. We hide our authentic emotions, thoughts, and personalities. It comes naturally to most people. We feel the need to put up a wall around who we really are. Why do we do this? Maybe it’s to protect ourselves. Maybe we are scared of being judged. Maybe it’s for no real reason at all. But everyone hides some aspect of themselves from everyone, be it their personality, their feelings, or their passions.

For this work, I asked each of my friends to spend a week journaling. I instructed them to write in any format  – from poems, to little notes, to full paragraphs – and to write about things that they wouldn’t typically tell people, or what went on in their heads. I then took pieces of their unfiltered thoughts and added them to their respective images. Using pictures I have made of them in the past paired with their personal writing, I am trying to break down the wall between the version of ourselves we present to the world and the one we tend to hide


Michaela Cusin was born and raised in Lower Manhattan and currently attends NEST+m high school. She began experimenting with photography in her sophomore year and joined the International Center of Photography Teen Academy community in the summer of 2020. Michaela focuses primarily on photographing her friends, aiming to document their lives and the awe of being a teenager in New York City. She will be attending Pratt Institute in the fall of 2021 to continue studying photography.