The Final 12: It’s All About Me.

monochrome images of a blurred man's face as he turns to the camera
1 of 12 – Me

In May I got an email from my college tutor saying that he’d just been notified that the submission date for evidence supporting our projects had been brought forward by almost 2 weeks. 

The project submission was originally to be in the A3 portfolio books we’d been given. I’d been doing everything: introduction, essays, camera techniques exercises, shoot evaluations in the Pages app on my MacBook Pro so that I could print that on photopaper to glue into the book along with the edited images. I had most of it typed up, ready to print so I didn’t have too much work left for the actual ‘book’ when I got the email. 

It was actually quite tricky to format a document with full-size images and text pages so I ended up signing up for the free trial of Affinity Publisher to speed things up. I’ve used Affinity Photo for a few years so it didn’t take too long to get going with Publisher.

As well as completing the digital version of my book I also had to complete the self-portrait section of my project. I had this all pre-planned and pre-visualised in my head including poses and all of the technical aspects of using my lighting and backdrop kit. The only issue I had on the night of the shoot was that my camera and laptop refused to talk to each other so I couldn’t do tethered shooting via Capture One. This only slightly slowed things down as I was able to use the self-timer and face-recognition settings in my camera together to get good results even when shooting at f1.4. The reduced time for submitting my project meant that I did only do half of the set ups that I wanted but I got what I needed. 

monochrome image of a man holding up a notepad with'Bethany and Sophie's Dad' written on it
2 of 12 – Me again

The final stage of the write up and evaluation of each shoot was to add in the reflective learning aspect to it. This meant spending a couple of days thinking and writing about walking and landscape photography being my coping mechanism for when my depression starts to get worse. Then I had to write about how I’d lost that coping mechanism since lockdown began as I was shielding at home due to my asthma. 

My mood basically bottomed out and it took about 2 weeks for it to fully even out. The hard thing was trying not to let my depression show to my daughters as children are great at picking up on these things. I am pretty good at hiding when my mood is low but I know that our eldest had noticed this time. That made me feel guilty, resulting in lower mood still, the usual vicious circle of depressive thought.

Colour image of a man sitting cross legged in front of a backdrop painted with a child's painting
3 of 12 – Another one of me

The ability to seem relatively normal while having very low mood is common to a lot of people with depression. When asked how we are the response is often ‘OK’ or similar. I have tried to represent this in some of the photographs, particularly the long exposures of the waterfalls. A couple of the images are shot to have a split frame with the water appearing very still and calm at the top but with swirling, turbulent currents below. I also include areas of solid black in all of my landscape images and plan to continue with this side of the project.

long exposure colour photograph of a waterfall
4 of 12 – Black Gives Way To Blue (Millheugh Waterfall, River Calder, Blantyre)
Colour photograph of one of the cascades at Crossbasket Waterfall, River Calder, Blantyre
5 of 12 – One of Four Angels? (Crossbasket Waterfall Cascade, River Calder, Blantyre)
Long exposure colour photograph of a waterfall  on the River Calder at Blantyre
6 of 12 – I’ve Been Down (Millheugh Waterfall, River Calder, Blantyre)

At the same time I made the decision to stay off social media for that time as well as I wasn’t sure if it was a good or a bad thing for me. I had been posting photos each day of what activities I had been doing with my daughters each day during lockdown on Instagram and Facebook but I just stopped.

I also stopped listening to photography podcasts at the same time too. The lack of wedding photography clients had also been preying on my mind even before lockdown and listening to podcasts about the industry just started to make me feel worse. By the end of July all of my 2020 bookings had cancelled. Photography was both a stressor and the way I chose to destress.

One thing I did do was to start playing more music on my bass guitar and learning to sing a new song or two. I also kept participating in an online ‘pub’ on Zoom complete with quiz in Friday nights which was started by a few photographers I know through Facebook. This has actually been one of the positive sides to lockdown.

After a couple of hiccups due to file formats and sizes my submission went through on time in May. 

Monochrome photograph of a woman smiling and holding up a notebook with 'Lucy and Charli's Mum' written on it
7 of 12 – Lucy and Charli’s Mum

Prior to lockdown my intuition had been to only use the images of myself and the other parents for my submission as I wasn’t sure how the landscape images would fit. Lockdown meant that I would not be able to get any more images of the other parents so I decided to use what I already had. I was worried that this was going to look like 3 separate projects shoe-horned together. 

After spending a couple of days on the reflective part of my book I realised that these three subjects represented my life and how I related to other people and my environment. Even the images of the other parents were about how I related to them as much as they were about my original idea that parents can feel isolated and that they have lost part of their identity.

Monochrome photograph of a man holding up a notepad with 'Brandon and Aiden's Dad' written on it
9 of 12 – Brandon and Aiden’s Dad

By the time it was time for the exam results to be sent out in mid August I had forgotten all about it as my eldest daughter started school on the day that I received my exam certificate. I was very pleased that I got an ‘A’ grade. I have now signed up for the Open College Of Arts degree program in photography.

Monochrome photograph of a woman smiling and holding up a notepad with 'Millie and Grace's Mum' written on it
10 of 12 – Millie and Grace’s Mum
Monochrome photograph of a woman holding up a notepad with 'Bethany and Sophie's Mum' written on it
11 of 12 – Bethany and Sophie’s Mum
Monochrome photograph of a woman holding up a notepad with 'Sandy and Rozzie's Mum' written on it
12 of 12 – Sandy and Rozzie’s Mum

I plan to continue making images that are intended to represent my state of mind and the nature of depression. I don’t know if these will form a part of my formal study of photography for college yet. I also plan to not leave it so long between blog posts. Well that’s the plan anyway.

Until next time, K

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