Searching for something...

"In the end, I think it is the search for the real, but also the search for the self, the search for what it means to be human. Perhaps this time I will see more clearly, understand something more. Perhaps in the end, that which we see lies within the quest itself, for there is no final knowing only a continual unfolding and bringing together of what has been discovered."  Dianne Albin

This quote is excerpted from The Van Gogh Blues - for Dianne's whole piece click here - its worth a read!

I've been feeling a little like I've been going around in circles lately - trying to move forward but then always coming back to where I originally started - my thoughts repeat, the words triggered randomly and then set on a loop. I keep thinking I have it all out of my head - either in photos or words, that I'm getting closer to having it all figured. But then I'm here again - with the same thoughts and the same realisation... and that brief second of clarity before it disappears.

As I write, I feel like I've known these words before - as I read, I feel like I'm reading words I've read before - I see glimpses of my muse (inner voice, inspiration, creativity, whatever it is that drives me) in other peoples work, I recognise it in other peoples words and I wonder - are we all repeating the same thing over and over. Are we all doing the same thing - searching for that something too - whatever it is - but never quite finding it completely. Or if we do find it - is it always so brief that we all forget and continue back on our loop.

Reading The Task of Meaning Making by Dianne Albin above (do read it!) triggered again that feeling of recognition and knowing - knowing that whatever drives me also drives others - but its hard to say something like that without feeling that perhaps you're a bit crazy. Yet - I feel like its the most obvious and sane thing I've ever thought... and with each reminder, each glimpse of it in others - the idea becomes more solid and more obvious.  I have no idea what it is, where it comes from or why - I'm not particularly religious, so I don't feel like I'm seeing God, or even something divine and unattainable - its just there - connecting us all somehow and pushing us further.

I've read recently that depression is a disease of coping - of trying to fit yourself into a lifestyle and society where you don't quite feel you fit or prosper... and I've said before that I feel like depression is a constant fight - fighting to have your life a certain way - to do everything as normally as you can.

And I feel like I have a choice now - I try and fit myself into this life - a life with thoughts that don't really fit me - that will leave me unhappy, sick and stuck in a loop of repetition - but a life that appears normal - that is defined by society as appropriate.  

Or I take a leap, take a risk and I accept what my instincts and my creative muse are trying so hard to tell me - as crazy as it may seem or feel - as sane and obvious as it may seem or feel -  and see where it takes me... and hope that people don't think I've completely lost my marbles along the way.

Looking it over - I guess really it's a choice between what appears to be acceptable, conventional crazy or the unknown, unconventional crazy. In many ways 'depression' seems safer - I know it now, people understand (either completely or vaguely) what it means when you're trying to explain how you feel - but even depression has become a pigeon hole, something to fit in and be labelled as - to be 'treated' rather than explored, taken care of and healed... whilst now I think I'm ready to define myself.


Searching for something... something different


For the last year I've been trying to write a photography course based on my experience with film photography. In the last year I have taken less photos than ever. This has caused a slight problem in my writing experience as I'm sure you can imagine... in fact you've probably even noticed that I've been writing less here too.

My photography (and in turn my blog) has always been led by how I feel, how I feel about what I'm looking at, momentary flashes of inspiration and excitement that occur when I see something that I want to take a photo of. I never thought there was any rhyme or reason to the photos I was taking, I was driven by the search and they appeared.

I was wrong. I was, as I always knew deep down, searching for something, something much more specific than I originally imagined.

However, I still couldn't tell you the rhyme or reason, or what drives me to look, or even why I take the photos I do, and I definitely couldn't tell you what it is I was searching for... what I'm searching for now. But for the last year, an older part of myself - the part that wanted everything to go back to 'normal', to how it was - has been trying to dominate my photos - the part that didn't want to accept the seemingly unacceptable, the part that didn't want to let go of the past, the part that couldn't accept the pain, the changes and ultimately the ripples of consequences.


For the past year I've been fighting myself, and I won't lie - it has been brutal - and it's been showing the most in my photography, or my lack of photography.

But yesterday, as I walked out of the Doctors building, I realised that I was a very different person to the one who walked in that first day last December and I felt OK with that.

Which is huge.

I am different and the way I'm searching has been trying so hard to change with it but my older self was resisting it, as hard as I could - in fact I fought it to the last moment. Until yesterday I didn't even realise that I was fighting, not until the fight was over. I stopped fighting a number of things yesterday in accepting that I had changed, that things have changed, that life is different and will always be different... and even though there is still the (sometimes gut wrenching) pangs of sadness, regret and mourning, mostly I just felt relieved.

For the longest time, you feel you are defined by the fight - but it was always a losing battle - the changes in me were instant, I can even tell you the exact moment - it was the acceptance, the acceptance of it all, that was/still is the hard part. I might never truly accept it fully, I don't know. But I have started to accept it in a deeper part of myself and that's a huge step.

Once the fight was over though, the urge to take photos came back almost instantly, yesterday it was inspired by a word. Today it is inspired by sunshine. I can already feel the tug in my chest looking out the window and walking down the hill to work I spotted at least 5 things I would have taken photos of if I'd have the time (I'm always in a rush in the morning... urgh). It was the best walk to work I've had all year even though I didn't take any photos.


Looking through my recent photos, these three above in particular, I can see the changes were already seeping through. As I fought more often than not my inner drive won and my eyes were drawn to details they never were before, to textures specifically, to the broken, to the damaged - to the beautiful. My drive had accepted them all as a part of my creative identity, it was 'me' who didn't want to.

It seems odd to refer to different parts of myself here, and even words like 'inner self',  'drive', 'newer', 'older' and 'me' don't really explain it well but ultimately that's what depression feels like for me - an internal fight with no real definition. A fight of perspective, of thoughts, of what's real and what's not. A fight of emotions, of urges, of wanting to stay in bed but so desperately wanting to get up at the same time. A fight of clinging on, of letting go, of denying, of accepting.

Depression to me is a constant fight where you don't really know the rules, you don't know the outcomes, you don't know the opponents, or even what you are fighting for. In fact, most of the time I don't even realise that I'm fighting until a specific fight is over. But you are, you're fighting to get through, to get out of bed, to understand, to get to work (and stay there) and I know there will be another fight, I'm probably in one right now with myself.

But for now, I'm happy that I want to take photos again. That I have fought enough to get to this point. That I feel, just a little bit, like I'm winning the battle and ultimately, that all the fighting is worth it.

Camera: Olympus OM-10
Film: Kodak BW400CN
Location: Knaresborough, England


p.s. This post is huge, I didn't plan that, but thank you if you made it to the end, much love x

Searching for something...


Over the last few months I haven't taken as many photos. My balance was rocked and my drive vanished. I've mourned its loss, worried about it coming back, shook my head in frustration when part of me has wanted to pick up a camera, but another stronger part of me has said no. But I've never pushed my creativity*. It usually makes things worse. My creativity is stubborn, its determined, its wilful and amazingly, its probably the only part of me that really knows what it wants to do in any moment even if what it wants isn't necessarily what I think I want.


After getting back from our Berwick holiday I dropped off my films and through various faults at my lab (long story) three rolls of film weren't scanned properly. Luckily after asking around on Twitter, my friend Adam (who I'm sure I've featured here before) took my films for me and scanned the negatives.  I can not thank him enough for that.



However, as I mentioned in one of my last posts, I really over exposed most of my Zenit photos - to the point of where the negatives were more purple than anything. The concious, forgiving part of me was ready to let them go - I'm learning, its OK to make mistakes right? But despite all my efforts, my subconscious, my creativity wouldn't. It kept coming back to them, dragging me back to them.



And suddenly I felt it. That drive that once was always there. It was back, straining against me. That stubbornness aiming for a result rather than sitting back and waiting. Something was in those photos. Something my creativity wanted to see, something it knew was there... and suddenly, after months of waiting, worrying, and fretting, I was crying again, but not through frustration, but through relief. 

Relief because I was searching again... searching for something. 



The photos scattered through this post are the final (heavily) edited versions from Lindisfarne that I finally decided felt 'right'. They're not perfect but then neither am I, neither is my zenit b, and my photography has many more mistakes than I would care to admit... but a part of me didn't give up on these photos, a part of me didn't give up on myself... and that is probably what I really needed to find rather than a pretty photo.


*For lack of a better word for that drive feeling that makes people do what they love - muse is also good I guess.