Sitting at the computer, occasionally glancing out the window, trying to find words that can be written down eloquently and not in haste. My mind is loud but my words are few. I’m frustrated. A platform for creativity should not have restraints to control how creatives express themselves. Creatives should not alter their art for validation.
When I was 17, I used to take my mum’s Olympus FE-280 Digital XD Camera (which made the most exciting electronic twinkling noise when you turned it on - I can still hear it!) all the time to take some self portraits. I didn’t need a jazzy camera to create what was in my mind’s eye. I just needed a camera. Recently I stumbled across some old self portraits which I took as part of my Dreams and Nightmares Project for A Level Photography. I don’t think these photos are perfect, but I am still proud of them. They are so expressive and interesting. All I used was the compact camera and a table light.
I felt inspired looking through these photos. I wanted to grab my camera and my table light (the same one I used in the above photos is still kicking it so I had to bring the old fella back), head into my bedroom and take some expressive photos. I set up my camera and the light, Aaron kindly said he would help me so I gave him some objects to create cool shadows and light flares.
Something didn’t feel right. I felt tired and worn down. I could not find the energy in me to create strange or dramatic poses. I sat. I turned my head from side to side. My hand graced my cheeks a few times. I felt lifeless. Aaron supported me, directing me through it. My mind wouldn’t let me create. It wouldn’t allow me to let go.
The idea of trying to recreate the style of these images was really exciting to me. I remember feeling so free and confident when I took them 9 year ago. But now, being there in that moment felt so alien. It was like I had never been in front of a camera before.
Looking out the window once again, telling myself how petty my thoughts going through my head are whilst knowing deep down I need to let go and get this feeling off of my chest. It has been playing on my mind for almost a week. So… out with it. Last night, Aaron asked me where am I thinking of putting these photos and suggested that I do not upload them to my Instagram as they aren’t typical Instagram posts. He’s right. They’re not “typical” Instagram photos. I couldn’t agree more with him. They are not bright or colourful. They are moody and atmospheric. I remember seeing a video recommending using white backgrounds and using blue tones to fit in with the crowd, but also you do you. I don’t understand how you can be yourself whilst conforming to what everyone else is doing. I guess that is deep down the reason why I wanted to recreate this style of imagery. I wanted to create something which at is core is me. No filters. No conforming. Simply expressing myself freely. I think creativity is so important to defining who you are.
Instagram has been pissing me off to death recently, with it’s nonsense algorithms and adverts being forced down my throat every time I open the bloody app. I used to love opening it up, probably spending a little too much time on it, seeing what my friends, family and clients have been up to. It was a really nice experience to use. But now when I want to see photos of the lovely people in my life I get toothpaste, beer and cat food adverts. Instagram, I know what toothpaste is and if you stalked me properly you would know I do not drink beer and although cats are cute, I am a dog person at heart! The feed is clogged up with adverts so I can no longer see the rubies in the rock. Instagram is like No Face in Spirited Away when he eats everything the workers give him, becoming fatter whilst his consistency transforms into something gloopy. Underneath it all, No Face is enchanting and gentle, with an obsession for Chihiro’s sincerity. I would like that No Face to come back.
I have no strong feelings for these self portraits. I neither love nor hate them. However I do think they are important, as they allow me to see that I am not the same person I was 9 years ago. “I feel I’m anonymous in my work. When I look at the pictures, I never see myself; they aren’t self-portraits. Sometimes I disappear.” (Cindy Sherman) A statement I agree with when I take my own self portraits. However in these images I see myself too clearly. Someone who is tired and frustrated.