Alena Xiong

“There were many times I just wanted to be gone, disappear. I had to learn how to pick myself up. That’s the truth - it was really hard. Depression is something difficult for me to explain. In the end, I looked at my parents and realized it’s worth it to keep trying every day, even through the hardest times.” 

#alovediary: an impromptu photo series of those I love and admire

It's often difficult to recognize your own shortcomings, but it's important to act after realization. I used to photograph people, things - for fun. But I hadn't picked up my camera in months. It had become a decoration in the corner of my bedroom, nestled among stacks of unopened books. Upon reflection, I realized how dumb I was for not investing more time into something I thoroughly enjoy. I felt satisfied with my skill level and didn't wish to improve? What b.s. It was time to get up and charge a couple batteries.

I want to again practice photography, but thought - how can I help others through this venture? I wanted to do something personal, something worthwhile, something meaningful - intentional. #alovediary was my answer, an impromptu photo series of those I love and admire.

Alena was the perfect first subject. One of my best friends, she has always complied with my poking, prodding, shifting and brushing. We settled in for a short afternoon in my room with a top 100 playlist blaring in the background, muted by a silent stream of critiques as I reviewed each shot.

A most glowing soul, she is the least intimidating person in the room. Her small frame may contribute to it, but her demeanor is one of a comfortable friend who isn't worried about false appearances. Honest and jovial, Alena calms me, but simultaneously reveals a hidden protectiveness. She is much like a little sister indeed, a precious one.