It sounds like a mundane question: What’s the view from your window? But in a new photo series, looking at the view from someone’s apartment in Lahore or Singapore or Brisbane, it’s possible to glimpse something about life on the other side of the planet that a typical spread in a travel magazine might miss.
The View From Here asked photographers in 27 countries to take a picture of their view in the morning, and then again at night, describing what they see, smell, and hear as they look outside.
“We wanted to create something that would inspire curiosity about the way other people live,” says Tracy Christmann, director of marketing for Somfy Systems, the company that created the project (appropriately, Somfy designs window coverings). “We chose to do that by asking people about their homes, specifically the view from their windows, and how that view makes them feel.”
The view from an apartment in Bucharest is a long line of concrete apartment blocks, but the photographer doesn’t see it as bleak. “This view represents my childhood, home, and love–my girlfriend lives right across the street,” he writes. In Cochabamba, Bolivia, a woman describes how she used to see nothing but nature, but now she’s surrounded by a newly-built neighborhood. In Manila, a man who looks out on a kaleidoscope of metal roofs talks about the sound they make when it rains, and how he can tell when the streets are going to flood.
Each photographer talks about basic but fascinating facts of their life (you can read them in the captions, above). A woman in Kolkata talks about how her family is about to lose their home because of rising maintenance costs, how she can hear birds singing as she looks outside, and how it smells like dogs, because nine dogs live in the gap between her house and the house next door.
The photos and stories are relatable, since they focus on everyday life, and powerful because they put the viewer in the perspective of the other person: It’s possible to start to imagine what it might be like to live 7,000 miles away. “We hope people feel curiosity, empathy, and interest when they learn about the way people live and feel around the world,” says Christmann.