This photo is taken after my sister’s last day of kindergarten. She just finished her online celebration and as a treat, we went to the beach as a family. Here, Maria dashes through shallow water in search of shells or a crab, having already forgotten about her momentous day.
As someone with an eleven-year age difference with my sibling, I’ve found a chance to relive my own childhood by watching my younger sister. Watching her skip over the water on the beach or shake in excitement when she receives a new toy has been moving: trapped in the body of this sticky six-year-old is a sense of innocence and childhood bliss I so desperately try to capture on camera. In these photos, I want to show the impact that my younger sister has had on our family, and on me.
In this photo, Maria is tired of walking all day and is beginning to whine but my mother refuses to carry her. As an act of defiance, she stops in the middle of the street and clutches my mother’s arm with her doll tucked underneath. I was struck by her expression in this frame, as instead of screaming or crying, she expresses pure affection and a desire for my mother to show her the same.
Elena Hlamenko is a rising senior at Stuyvesant High School in New York City. In her free time, Elena enjoys journaling, writing, and exploring the functions on her film camera, in addition to writing for her school newspaper, The Spectator. Her younger, six-year-old, sister is the inspiration behind most of her work. With an eleven-year age gap with her sister, Elena has started a long-term project to document the growth of her younger sister over the years.