2007 and 2008 show up in my archives as self portrait upon self portrait upon self portrait.
In a time before the word “selfie” existed, and when Facebook was only a year or two old, it was less about exhibitionism and more about discovering myself and improving my skills as a photographer at the same time.
Following the break up of a seven year relationship with my childhood sweetheart at the end of 2007, I had no idea how to deal with it and quickly retreated into my own little world with my camera to try and make sense of my grief. While driving my friends and family to distraction with my circular thoughts and endless tears, I took photo after photo after photo, both posed and candid.
I started a 365 project which can be seen here, though not all the images are publicly visible – they’re mainly snapshots but having a zero-faff daily project helped so much:
Created with flickr slideshow.
They can also be seen here on my Flickr account if the slideshow is playing silly buggers (internet explorer, I’m looking at you…)
The daily ritual of remembering to take and upload my photo, of finding new ways to see myself, to pose, places to be – they helped me see myself as a whole person, not the half of a couple I had always been. I learned how to be me, how to be by myself and how to be happy alone… crucial lessons for rebuilding my current happier, brighter, colourful life.
In essence I suppose photographed my way around my broken heart, fixing the break with pixels and colour and light. The thing I’d adopted as one of my many interests and developed as a skill ultimately helped me find myself again, deal with the pain, shed my old self and move on with my life.
Looking back at those photos I took, I can see (because hindsight is magic, but also because I have changed so, so much in that time) the girl I was and the woman I am. I can see the pain I was in and my desperate hope that it would somehow turn out to be a bad dream, but I can also see my true personality peeking out, though at the time I didn’t notice it. And it’s like getting to know a little sister after a long absence… it’s bittersweet to see her ups and downs and I wish I could tell her it would all be ok. More than ok – it’ll be rather wonderful a few years down the line!
And as the catalyst for a curious life – well, seven years later I’m still photographing my way through this world, and learning daily from it.
I’m thinking of doing another series soon – drop me a note if you’d like to join me!