Final Major Project – Project Development – 8th January 2019

I have started to contemplate how I should use my experiences of photography and how I can use it as a technique to assist in my anxiety management.

Whenever my anxiety hits a fever pitch I can feel it creeping up my throat. It is times like this that I go in search of flowing water.

The smell of the sea or a river running through a forest is powerful – as are the connotations of strength. There being no pollution, just the nature and serenity and sound of flowing water or lapping waves is instantly calming to me. The patterns the water creates, the ripples that are far reaching. The way that it finds its route no matter what helps me to feel a bud of strength and positivity return.

This week I went out for a few hours to do exactly this, allowing me to be only present in the moment not to focus on my anxiety the affects of my physical disease, or the pressures of my work circumstance. I find this is the release to help me to move forward and not get trapped into the negativity.

Water is important to me also for the metaphors I associate with it.

  • Water like time does not stand still
  • It always finds a way whatever the obstacles are put in its path
  • You don’t know how deep it goes, like the depths of my emotions.
  • Water can help wash away the negative feelings I have.

This is really important to consider in relation to maintaining my mental health.

I have also been reading around the subject of Mindfulness and contemplative photography as I have adopted it as a very important step on my journey to good long term mental and physical health.

I have prepared a shooting list to follow up with more images:

  • Plessey Woods
  • Morpeth
  • St Mary’s Lighthouse
  • Tyne
  • Holywell Dene
  • Jesmond Dene
  • Seaton Sluice Harbour and beach
  • Longsands, Tynemouth
  • Blyth Beach

Final Major Project: Project Development, Practice Shoot, 28th December 2018

After reading and researching Mindful photography I decided to give it a go. I took my partner to a local country park and we just went for a walk, I took a small bridge camera to just see what happened.

It took me back to last year, and I had gotten injured training for the London Marathon, what was expected to be a small easily fixed injury, was really quite major, but part of my physiotherapy was to go for walks in an attempt to remobilise my joint after being in a moon boot. It helped so I feel it should help again.

We came to a lake and just watched the swans and ducks and I decided to take a photo, I didn’t look at what I had taken (I guess this is what it would feel like when shooting on film!), we just continued on our walk stopping every now and then taking in our surroundings. When we finished the route we went home and then I decided to have a look and see what I had taken.

I felt relaxed and happy, and this was made even happier by my favourite image of the day.

Kirsty Logan, 2018

I have decided to keep trying this technique, as there may not only be some value to it for my FMP but I feel this will also be good for me personally. Combined with the walking it can only do me good.

Final Major Project: Project Development, 21st December 2018

Mindfulness and Photography

Recently photography has been tough because I am struggling with mental and physical issues. Whilst doing some research I came across the terms contemplative photography and mindful photography and it made me want to know more about it.

As I feel like I am in a creative fog and haven’t really found what it is I want to do for my FMP that really excites me, I felt there was no harm in having a look at some different subjects. I felt I needed to kick-start my creativity, as I had so much self doubt due to my low mood. I found lots of articles and books but I think what I take from it is as follows.

An individual needs to stop putting pressure on themselves to get a certain picture at a certain place at a certain time, and it is more about stopping for a moment to actually see what is going on around you, and not just looking but seeing, to allow yourself to breathe and not feel pressured, and once you have taken everything in then start taking some images.

Perhaps in a loose way it can be linked to Cartier-Bresson’s Decisive Moment. You have to be able to properly see what it is you are focusing on to really make the connection and decided to commit that moment for eternity in an image.

I had been putting so much pressure on myself to find my subject, to make images of what I thought I should be doing I wasn’t even enjoying any of it. I was just trying to achieve a goal and not doing it successfully because it wasn’t about anything it was of something!!

I read an article with a viewpoint from a counsellor who advised that sometimes it isn’t so much about the photography which is beneficial but also the walk to get to it, the journey to get to the place to get the image is also part of the therapeutic benefits.

So over the next couple of weeks I have decided to try these techniques, and the activities in Zen Camera and the Practice of Contemporary Photography and see where it takes me, and also to read a bit more about the subject as a whole.

References

Karr, A. and Wood, M. (2011). The practice of contemplative photography. Boston, Mass: Shambhala.

Ulrich, D. (2018). Zen Camera. New York. Watson-Guptill

https://ayearwithmycamera.com/blog/mindful-photography-what-is-it-and-how-do-you-do-it

https://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/technique/interviews/photography-saved-my-life-photography-as-therapy-117567

Final Major Project – Project Development – 11th December 2018

I haven’t done anything photographically recently I have lots to say but my motivation is very low.

In the last month I have looked at the disease that took my Grandma from us – and in my past I have raised money fro this cause to help others.

We lost another family member this year to a different mental illness and it was this moment that made me wonder if it was time to use this project to look at me own illness.

Earlier this year I received my diagnosis – broadly Inflammatory Arthritis more specifically Seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis. I suffer pain and discomfort and fatigue everyday – but now it has a name.

There are times when the joy gets sucked out of me because I can no longer to the things that I used to do (and the things that I can not at the same level) there are times when even holding a camera is difficult. Along with all of this there are the mental health affects and for me this is the hardest.

I find that when I concentrate on photography whether that is the taking or the editing, it can some times take some of the pain away, the fuzziness doesn’t make my brain feel so sad. Taking the photographs shows me that I can still do something and I would like to think that by taking about these challenges to others that it could maybe help them too.

I want to hold a workshop to talk to others as well as display my images and show the journey is the way that I would like to go.

I have brainstormed some elements that help to describe my feelings:

  • Dead Flowers with the petals missing.
  • RSVP showing non attendance
  • Tablets

I have also been reading a lot about the #VersusArthritis campaign and this has been really been powerful in showing the different ways people are affected by this disease.

Final Major Project – Project Development – 24th November 2018

Whilst being in the stage of not being really sure where I want my work to go, I began some brainstorming of Ideas.

Being uncomfortable with what I feel is exploiting Dementia I thought of ways that I could turn the situation around.

John Darwell came into my memory – A black Dog Came Calling. This project was the basis to practice development within his PhD at Sunderland University and it set off some inspiration within myself.

If I am not comfortable exploiting what in my theory is my on guilt and in turn people who cannot give me permission to tell their story – I am very comfortable in turning this project around and pointing it at myself.

These were some of my thoughts.

I wanted to look at combining poetry or text along side my images with representations of feelings in the photographs.

References

https://johndarwell.com/index.php?r=image/default/category&alias=a-black-dog-came-calling

Final Major Project – Project Development Research – 20th November 2018

As I am looking at the archive of my own family I was directed to look at Nicky Bird and her project Travelling the Archive (2015-2016). Wendy and I discussed that this would be a great way to start.

Bird’s work showed my techniques that I could use to represent the loss my family still feels in our lives years after the death of my Grandma from Alzheimer’s.

Whilst Bird’s images are composites and also show images from yesteryear displayed to the public in the community they were originally taken in, the images I was creating felt more raw and emotive – Though this is probably because they are my memories.

The images I selected were all treasured family memories, many were from my own house where I still live and this had a big effect. The images had more impact as they featured my Grandma, along with other relatives some of which have also passed away – making it one of the most difficult photography tasks that I have ever carried out.

Me and Grandma

Like Bird’s work the sites that I visited still resonate and the genealogy links tell a story of not only my past but my family, and the gigantic loss we all felt when we lost of family matriarch.

As with the Family Ties Network, that Bird was involved in I explored the feelings and motivation towards the work I was carrying out.

I feel I wanted to explore Alzheimer’s in a way that respected my Grandma, and in a way that also protected her as when she died she had lost her identity due to the illness so I was very reluctant to share the work as if she no longer knew herself and our family why should I share her identity with those who did not know her. I was adamant and very reluctant as I did not want to exploit vulnerability especially when there was no way to seek permission.

There was also the guilt – when she was alive maybe I didn’t do as much as I should have – even though I was only 15, I should have been more present with her – and this made this piece of work even more difficult and if I shared these images would everyone be able to see that I didn’t do enough? That I should have been a better Grand-Daughter.

This week also came with the news that I no longer have my venue booking for my exhibition due to an administration error and this added to my already over emotional week.

References

https://familytiesnetwork.wordpress.com/

https://nickybird.com/projects/travelling-the-archive-2015-2016/

Final Major Project – Project Development Research– 14th November 2018

After yesterdays tutorial I have had time to think about what we discussed. In truth I am not sure that the Rephotography in the way that we discussed is the way that I want to go with my work.

I have been reading deeper in to the photography of dementia and the links that can be made ice as one example.

A person is frozen in time with the memories melting away.

Nicola Onions Photographed flowers in ice, in her Memoriam collection. As the type of links to the disease is so fitting I wondered about also using the ice but in a different way. Having an image in ice and watching it melt away hopefully taking with it some of the ink until there is no more and the memory has gone. The bubbles in the ice would also represent moments of lucidity. I have got the sense that this could turn into something really special if explored further and I have to say has peaked me interest.

I also thought if not using an image then it would be something that reminded me of the person that I have lost.

  • Grandma – Love/Glasses/Brooches
  • Auntie Joyce – Dogs/Birds
  • Uncle Raymond – Three Lions Emblem

References:

https://cargocollective.com/nicolaonions/Memoriam