🕺🏼 Two weeks’ boyfriend

2022-2023, Bali

"Two Weeks’ Boyfriend" - a web documentary in which Elena Sakharova, while living in Bali, explores her ideas about long-term relationships: how social media impacted her expectations of love and what her true needs in a relationship look like.

Bali is full of men. They are handsome, athletic, have a sense of humor, big hearts and whatever you want men to have, but... There’s always that “but” around the corner. Those men come here for a vacation. Usually it’s just a two-weeks vacation. 

So, then these handsome caring men with big hearts always leave Вali. They always leave me.

In the five years I've lived here, my heart has been broken many times. My longest relationship lasted about two months. Yet, usually I have those two weeks’ boyfriends.

Meanwhile, so many couples visit Bali for vacation. They seem happy, and I see them everywhere. They book massages together, sunbathe on the beach, share bikes, take selfies, and dine out.

I've been observing all these couples and wondering: "What am I missing out on? What exactly do I want to experience in a long-term relationship? Is there a chance I can experience it now?"

I made a personal dream list of what a perfect, loving, and caring long-term relationship would look like for me. I also reevaluated my ideas about happy love with the help of men I met through dating apps. All of these guys you will see in the pictures I saw for the first time in my life.

I was yearning for feelings: to feel a connection, a commitment, to feel like I had a real relationship, even if only for five seconds.

Through this project, I was discovering answers for some uncomfortable questions. Will I feel something real while playing romantic moments just for a camera shot? Where do my ideas about love from? Can a shoot become a start of a real relationship? What can I learn about modern love through this project? How will I feel when I see myself in these photos?

I hope this project will bring some inspiration and support to any single women who use online dating or are considering giving it a try.

 What was on the list︎

︎ A family portrait at home︎

︎ Playing tennis together

︎ You brushing my hair

︎ A day at the beach

︎ A sunset walk on the beach

︎ Me taking a bath while you read a book for me

︎ Going for ice cream

︎ Playing with a claw machine

︎ You buying me a surfboard

︎ Cooking together

During the project, we followed five rules

1. The matches were real. I swiped right on guys whom I genuinely liked.

2.They knew about the photo project from the start.

3. They could choose the activity they liked best from the list.

4. We could stop the episode if either of us felt uncomfortable. (This never happened).

5. After the shoot, we went on a normal date.

How did men react when I invited them to the project?

At first, I thought no one would want to participate in such a thing. I thought men barely liked to be photographed, especially in public places and especially playing out weird romantic scenarios with someone they just met. I thought no one would want to do it.

Boy was I wrong!

I changed my bio on Tinder and Bumble. The new one was saying: 

“Hi guys! I am looking for a short-term boyfriend for my photography project. Let’s shoot 1 episode of my “happy couple” project. I’ll play the role of a girlfriend and take some pictures of us doing activities like cooking together, going grocery shopping, surfing,  etc. You can choose the activity”.

And they swiped me right and texted:

I am in
                 Let’s do it!             

                                          Yes!!! Le’t go!!                  

And when we finally met, some of them were excited, while others were more stressed than excited. But overall, they were patient, kind, and supportive during the shooting, and so was I.

Who took these pictures if I'm in the frame?

A tripod. The entire project was filmed using an iPhone. So, I brought my tripod and the phone with me. I composed the shot, activated the timer, and the phone took a picture every three seconds. We “rehearsed” episodes from my list several times. Lots of times being honest!


Gratitude Words 

Thanks to Lenny, Corrie, Alex, Jack, Caesar, Jonathan, Blake, Fred, Martin and William for agreeing to be part of the project and helping me make my dreams of a happy relationship come true in these photos.

Thanks to my curator Feodora Kaplan.