I feel as though November may have completely changed the type of photography I want to do. I am in a limbo at the moment, of thinking of possibly changing the subject of my work, and backing down and talking myself out of it.
I suppose this all began when I decided to set myself a challenge. I have become more and more inspired by Rosie Hardy lately, and something about her self portraits began to speak to me. I think it was her dedication, but more how she incorporates her personal life into her art work. How she uses it as her therapy. Photography has always been something I’ve enjoyed, but I always felt as though taking photographs of models didn’t really ‘do’ it for me. It was never anything less than skin deep. I hate retouching and find myself torn between the feeling in my gut that this is wrong, and ‘but this is what everyone does. This is the only way to succeed.’ I am tired of doing that.
So after going through Rosie’s 365 project a few times, and becoming more and more inspired - I decided to begin setting myself challenges. I feel so bogged down whilst sitting down editing, it kills my creativity, I decided to begin the first month making a photograph a day. I started with creepy portraits because it’s so far from what I create now, and it would be nothing but fun. No model waiting for the photos to look good or the disappointment of a photo I’m not happy with. If it didn’t work out, who cares? I could put it down to experience and move onto the next day.
I figured out one thing on my first day - I was shit at editing. I put a zip dress on back to front, lay down in my living room and tried to get Dominic to take a series of photos I could piece together in Photoshop. A few months ago I had felt so much sadness that it felt as though there was a hole in my chest that wouldn’t close. And though circumstances had changed and I didn’t feel so sad anymore, I still felt that hole in the centre of my chest. As though I was on an operating table and someone had forgotten to stitch me back up. I loved that feeling, it made me feel as though I was connected to something much deeper than myself. Instead of the shallow and dead feelings of feeling ok, being angry and being stressed I had been feeling before.(I have since lost this feeling again and I miss it so much).
So I attempted to put that feeling into an image - and failed epically. I went a bit overboard with the editing, and erased too much which made one of my arms see through. And I did not feel proud of myself, or as though I had accurately represented what I wanted to - but it was fun. And easy. And I was laughing next to Dominic as I edited instead of nearly in tears because I was retouching I couldn’t stand to look at it anymore. And I failed, accepted it, and moved on to my next idea.
Over the next few days I had a lot of fun making creepy portraits. I told my parents and put my photos on here so my best friend and my boyfriend could see them. Ideas popped into my head as I was doing something else and it felt amazing to actually exercise my creativity. I didn’t try to add any emotional value to the photos because the first time was a failure, but I had fun nonetheless. I spent time alone running back and forth to my camera, leaning it on furniture as I didn’t have a tripod. I used myself in a lot of the photos because I have long hair I can drape over my face to create that ‘the ring’ effect, and fell in love with self portraiture. Because it was one less person to rely on, one less person to please.
One of the pivotal moments of this month was when I was in the car and drove past some woods that I had visited previously with Dominic. Instead of the rich green I had loved about them previously - autumn had suddenly changed the leaves to all different shades of orange and yellow, and they looked captivating. It caught my eye and I promised myself I would go back there and make the most of it. I had tried to arrange two photo shoots in there in summer, with both of the models letting me down. I was tired of being let down and just wanted to do something.
I convinced Dominic to go back with me the next day in the pouring rain. This is hard to write about, because I know you’ll read this - and I don’t know if I’m telling the story right. But from what I can remember I felt so happy, so alive and so excited about being there. Sitting on slimy abandoned baths and trying to squeeze into a dress without flashing with 15 minutes before we were about to get picked up felt exhilarating. I came out of the woods, covered in leaves with the bottom of my favourite dress soaking wet, feeling on top of the world. I got home and edited my favourite photo I have ever created. I feel like a bit of fraud there, because I didn’t technically click the button.
So I’ve been in limbo after that day, really. I’m tired of constantly putting my creativity on hold because I need someone to take a photo of. I’m tired of taking photos of models in pretty dresses and not having any real emotional connection to the photographs I take. I want to create art rather than a simple photograph. I want to tell a story. I want something deeper. The photo shoots with models since then have felt like a chore, and I am heartbroken by the amount of editing I’ve got to do for them now. I want to give up and take photos of myself all day.
But I’m scared that I’ll appear self centred. I’m scared to be honest online in case people judge me for it. I feel like a closed book in a lot of ways, always shying away from acquaintances because I don’t want them to know too much. It’s always been embarrassing. I don’t want to be judged for that. I don’t know what I’m going to do - but I know I want to take a break from models for a while (She says, with a model shoot set up for in a week’s time).