For London-based photographer Jeff Hahn, fitting in has never been easy. While he’s of Swiss-Chinese descent, he doesn’t (by his own admission) speak German or Cantonese very well and doesn’t feel like he belongs when he’s in Switzerland or Hong Kong. So, for his new book, he imagines a world where everyone is racially ambiguous; a fictional town called Port Yarin, from which the book derives its name.
“Yarin means ‘Tomorrow’ in Turkish,” Hahn explains. “They say that in 50 years we’re all going to look Brazilian. This is kind of a catalogue of what we might look like in the future.” The photographer got the idea when he visited a friend in Istanbul, a place he said represents him because it’s simulataenously located in Europe and Asia.
“There are five countries that are in between Europe and Asia,” he continues, “Originally I wanted to go and shoot the landscapes and the people there, but I ended up going to Jordan and Israel. Though they’re not straddling two continents, they’re visually in between Europe, Asia and Africa and a beautiful blend of each. I wanted to create this fictional town that’s a home to all the people who don’t belong.”
Alongside shots of Jordan and Israel, Hahn photographed a range of people of who are of mixed heritage – some he knows, some he doesn’t. This group includes a friend from high school, Björn, who is of Danish-Filipino descent and Hahn’s “original muse; two friends from London – Nicolas and Robert; one of his former assistants, Roger; two mixed-race male models – Jos and Elliott, who are both distinguishable by their freckles; and a guy he cast off Instagram in Tel Aviv, among others.
“Intimacy is the key word I aim for in everything,” Hahn says of his approach. “People often think that I've like slept with half the people I've photographed, and I really haven’t (laughs). I don’t even know some of them personally and I think that’s really nice.” The intimacy in his work is palpable; it’s as if his subjects have given him a strange sort of access – to their bodies, yes, but to their souls too.