Back On Track

2016-04-28

dreamy self-portrait

Trying to keep it together and keep going can be quite exhausting. Not letting possible failure bring you down, convincing yourself that everything will be okay while the doubtful and pessimistic voice screams something else.. I know my rational part is right. But how do you convince emotions?

After spending the last week encouraging myself, reading and doing some self-therapy by binge-watching all the Vampire Diaries episodes I’ve missed since last year (yes, I actually watch this teenie-drama-series. I firmly disagree with the way the characters handle problems and many things are exaggerated and don’t make sense, but it distracts me from reality and yes, for some reason, I like it anyway), I’m back on track.

Fragile, taking baby steps with shaking legs – but moving forward, supported by amazing people. Friends, family, bloggers, strangers. Without you, I’d still be lying on the floor, beating myself up for mistakes that can’t be undone. And after having experienced shattering solitude, I appreciate every support I get even more. So thank you for your kind words. <3

self-portrait

However, I feel like everybody expects aesthetically pleasant work from me and unlike at the beginning, I’m not allowed to make failures anymore. It doesn’t make sense, I know, but I’ve always been prone to be overly self-critical and now I’m afraid that I can’t keep up with the expectations. So since I’m currently not confident enough to photograph others, I feel like taking self-portraits, trying to express my moods and feelings.

Adding to the confusion is the realization that I have no idea what kind of photos I want to take. I thought I knew, but that was wishful thinking. I’m so new in photography and still have to find my voice, my signature. That means I’m going to start experimenting again, which is probably a good thing.

Also, the weather has been horrible the last couple of days and sparked the restlessness and gloomy feelings in me again. Darkness. Lost. In some way I’m glad to have those feelings back. They make me creative again. I feel more connected to the person I used to be. I’m so familiar with these feelings that I miss them in the photos I create when I’m happy, as if those photos don’t show all of me and the way I see the world. The darkness is an important part of who I was; I want to include it in the photos I take, no matter of whom.

Years ago, I wasn’t able to express the darkness that nested in my soul and kept it for myself, letting it swallow me up. Now I can, and I will.

∙•∙

Some words about the self-portraits in this post: I used photoshop to make my skin (that is ruined by acne) look better, but aside from that, I didn’t use any makeup. I didn’t want to hide behind any masks. Together with the bare shoulder and the hopefully a bit raw and insecure expression, I wanted to transmit my vulnerability and the uncertainty about what’s coming next. I hope I succeeded at least a bit :)

48 Comments
    1. What a beautiful read. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. If I may… you embracing the darkness is a courageous decision. We try so hard to conceal it that we end up with photos that don’t reflect what we truly want to express. Maybe the norms, the pressure, the accepted aesthetically pleasing play as major factors, but then again sometimes it’s nice to let go.

      1. Thank you for your kind words and sharing your thoughts as well, Edu. I think there’s this stigma that people are not supposed to share the darkness in their life. I still feel a bit insecure doing it outside the blogger world because people tend to relate sharing with attention seeking, but I think we’d be better off being more open about it what allows us to support each other. You’ve just encouraged me to be more experimental and let go, thank you for that :)

    1. You will find your “voice”. Don’t ever stop searching for it. Over time that voice may change, but it’s always there. Also you do amazing and beautiful self portraits! :)

      1. Thank you for your lovely compliments and the encouragement! :) I’m definitely planning to keep going, no matter how hard it gets. Have a beautiful weekend! :)

    1. “Darkness. Lost. In some way I’m glad to have those feelings back. They make me creative again”
      Wow, I used to think I was crazy for sometimes being happy about being heartbroken or lost or with all those type of feelings. But as you say this is the time when we truly are the most creative. At least it is that way for me, and it seems like for you too. There is beauty in pain, not in a weird masochist way, but in the sense that I believe that that is when we want to scream, to express, to show the world how we feel, and most people conceal that. But people like us, we like to put that into a creative process and make something beautiful out of something blue.
      I love this post and everything about it, and I really hope we get to meet this year, I feel like we would get along just wonderfully! :)
      Saludos y besos <3

      1. Oh dear Ilse, thank you so much for your kind and empathetic words <3 The quote (and some sentences that followed afterwards) was actually the only part of the post that I scribbled on a piece of paper because those words/feelings were suddenly running through my mind and desperately needed an outlet. So you might be right, we might be most creative when our feelings are overwhelming - and what emerges then is more relatable, because it's raw. And maybe that makes it beautiful? Because all pretense is stripped off and we can connect from "soul" to "soul"?
        I'm sure we're going to get along wonderfully! <3
        Abrazos y besos! <3

    1. These look great–that second one especially, it looks very vulnerable yet open and inviting. I can’t wait to see what else you make as you find your photographic voice.

      1. Thank you so much, Arielle! I actually wasn’t too sure about sharing the second one (after looking at it for a while, I thought I looked weird), but after reading your lovely description, I decided to share it also on Facebook. Thank you for making me see myself through different eyes :) take care and have a lovely weekend!

    1. Your photo’s are stunning as are you. Keep searching for the meaning in your life, it is part of the human condition to have ups and downs. It isn’t important what the world thinks, keep doing what feels right to you.

      1. Thank you for taking your time and commenting, Barbara – and for the lovely compliment! It’s not always easy to keep going, but thankfully I have wonderful support here and and in “real life” :) Have a lovely sunday!
        PS: You’re wonderfully creative, your cards look amazing!

    1. Hang in there Monika, I’m rooting for you! I wonder if these feelings you’re experiencing are at least partly the result of the anxiety of waiting to hear if you’ve been accepted to the course you applied to?

      Also, I love these self-portraits. Your emotions show through powerfully.

      1. Thank you very much, Josh, I appreciate your support a lot :) They were definitely related to the interview that went horribly – at least that’s the way I perceived it. They (the interviewers) pretty much destroyed my self-confidence haha but after those days, it’s finally restored again and I’m trying to move on.

        Thank you also for the compliments!

        btw I haven’t forgotten the pendant longer comment :)

        1. I’m sorry to hear the interviews didn’t go well :( I don’t know much about professional photography, but I love the shots you post on your blog. So no matter what happens with this application, don’t give up!

          Also, I’m impressed that you haven’t forgotten about my book of a comment; despite everything going on in your life! Please don’t feel pressured to respond to it if you don’t have the time, I don’t want to create any burdens for you.

          1. You’re always so uplifting! :) The course isn’t really about photography, but more about the role of photography and what we can use photos for and I thought that I was too photography-focused for them, but I’ve just found out that I made it!! They accepted me! :D

            Of course I didn’t :) I definitely want to reply to it, I enjoy talking to you. Is it okay if I reply to your fb profile so it’s less public? haha

    1. Meine Liebe, ich fühle dir gerade so nach. Meine Woche war von ähnlichen Selbstzweifel und Ängsten geprägt. Dunkel und unüberwindbar, schwierig. Danke für diesen Text, er gibt mir Hoffnung!
      Ich wünsche dir das Beste.

      Pascale

      1. Liebe Pascale, herzlichen Dank für deinen lieben und offenen Kommentar! Ich hoffe, dass du mittlerweile etwas mehr Licht siehst. Vergiss bitte nicht, dass du – bestimmt nicht nur für mich – ein Vorbild bist, zu dem man hochschaut – für mich bist du jemand, der es “geschafft hat”. Du bist schon so weit gekommen, ich bin mir sicher, dass du die Kraft hast deinem weiteren Weg zu folgen und deine Ziele zu erreichen! :)

        Umarmung <3

    1. What a beautiful read! And I have noticed, that I can totally relate to what you’re going through. I guess this uncertainty and hunger-for-more follows those of us who can’t be contained. The free-spirited, experimental, always-young ‘us’. The ‘us’ who are torn between two paths. There’s so much to say, but then again, later.
      You are beautiful and strong. Stay strong. :)

      1. Aw thank you, Shivani <3 I'm quite surprised (but very happy) that this post resonated with so many! You indeed sound like a free-spirited soul that can't be contained, and I hope that you'll be able to become who you want to be in this rollercoaster called life and won't let anyone or anything stop you :) I'm glad I can follow your path through your blog :) You too stay strong, my dear <3

      1. Thank you for your kind words, Wendy. I checked out your post and think it’s really helpful and inspiring! Generally I believe in having dreams – but it’s important to be honest to oneself and I couldn’t admit to myself that developing a photographic style takes a lot of time. Have a lovely Sunday :)

        1. Brilliant – some people are ‘naturals’ and can go on to be even better… Dream Big! Thanks so much for checking out my posts and I’m glad you found some inspiration.. Hope your having a ‘brilliant’ day too.. x

    1. I don’t know a thing about photography, my thing is writing fiction. I think that to be deep and to be true in your art, you have to experience life, emotions, sensations, ups and downs and treasure them. I think that an artist should exercise empathy as well, to learn to translate in their art emotions and experiences that are not their own and make them understandable to the public.

      Do I believe you need to be in pain to capture and transmit pain in your work? Personally, I don’t. I want to look at darkness from outside. I want to caress it, but I don’t want to be embraced by it. Not anymore. As a human being, I am much more than that. In a room with me and my solitude, I want to be the branch on the outside, poking at my window.

      If you need to recall your dark moments to make art, do it. But I suggest you to not listen to the sirens of the suffering artist. In a polite way I say that it’s a trope. With more honesty I call it bullshit.

      P.S. In this right moment it’s raining so beautifully. The sky is becoming darker. The water falls gently. The leaves in the trees are trembling.

      1. Nina, I love your comments. I always feel like a you’re a big sister talking to me (I don’t have any elder siblings :D) :))

        Yes, I agree that all forms of art are about life and its experiences. But I’m still struggling with the empathic part you mentioned, because I have yet to learn how to translate emotions I’m not feeling into art – meaning that I can’t create any ‘darker’ images as long as I am fully happy. But you give me hope that I can learn it. I love these phrases, they’re written beautifully: “I want to caress it, but I don’t want to be embraced by it.” and this one even more: “In a room with me and my solitude, I want to be the branch on the outside, poking at my window.” So poetic, such a wonderful picture you create.

        Thankfully, I’ve documented my dark moments. I think reading them and listening to melancholic music can put me into the mood to create the photos I want without actually being unhappy – at least at the beginning. I think that it won’t be necessary anymore when I do it often enough :)

        I definitely don’t want to become a suffering artist, it has taken me too much effort to get out of the suffering. I had to smile about the bullshit part :D

        Thank you for your comment and have a lovely day! <3

        1. Hi Monika, it’s a big result to be felt like a big sister, for a person who doesn’t have any siblings at all :D
          Thank you for your compliments about my words, that’s my struggle :)
          I’m sure you’ll do it, Monika. If you proceed with this sensibility and clarity of mind, you will achieve your goals. Have a terrific day :)

          1. oh what a pity, you would have made an amazing sister!

            Thank you for your words of encouragement <3 It's great to be seen that way by a "grown up" :D
            Have a beautiful day!

    1. That second portrait is absolutely gorgeous. The composition and lighting is fantastic. The added difficulty of a self-portrait makes it all the more impressive.

      My interpretation: Left of the diagonal: Bare, Light, Pure, Skyward: Hope. Right of the diagonal: Covered, Dark, Hiding, Earthbound: Fear. And in the middle, you, staring questioning at the viewer as if asking someone else for help which way to lean.

      This picture is the human condition. We’re all just trying to find balance and looking to others for confirmation, advice and solice.

      I could be wrong but I still love that picture.

      Don’t ever stop!

      1. I LOVED this interpretation!! Thank you so much! I added your quote when I posted this picture in Facebook yesterday. I’m really moved that you saw all that in this photo. To be honest, I don’t think so much when I take self-portraits, they’re created by the impulse to express what I’m feeling. But I think your nailed it. I’m always fascinated about how “strangers” sometimes understand me better than I do.

        And it’s very consoling to know that you think that all humans feel that way.

        Thank you very much again and have a wonderful week!

    1. I love your writing and your photography. Keep sharing! I have no expectations of you but just want to enjoy the ride with you. Thank you and many blessings!

      1. Aw, thank you so much for your sweet comment, Lisa! :) Welcome to my blog, I hope you enjoy what you find here. Have a beautiful day and take care! :)

    1. “I have no idea what kind of photos I want to take” – a feeling I know so well, for all it matters. But I am also convinced that if you do not stop asking yourself this question, you’ll find a way, your way, and your pictures (or your “sryle”) will evolve.
      I love what you do …
      Which reminds me: Do you know The Helsinki Bus Station Theory (http://petapixel.com/2013/03/13/the-helsinki-bus-station-theory-finding-your-own-vision-in-photography/)? It is fun, and not altogether wrong, I think. So, stay on the bus!

      1. Thank you for the interesting input! I read the whole article – quite a lengthy read, but so encouraging! I especially liked the bus station part; it convinced me to stay on track and while I could get lost on my way, I should not head back to the beginning.

        However, I’m surprised you also ask yourself this question – your photos have such a unique style about them, it seems like you’ve figured out your style?

        1. First of all, I am glad to hear that you see an individual style in my photos. However, I think this is a rather complex question, worth discussing (which I would be more than pleased to do – here or in whichever way). As far as I understand, a photographic style might be compared to a personal handwriting.

          It might be defined by the way you do things: What you see and how you see it, what kind of equipment you prefer to use, and how you use it. Much of the way you produce a photograph evolves so that in a way it is not you who chooses a style but the style chooses you. Your interests play a crucial role in this process, as do your influences (as for me, I would be hard put to say which photographer influences me, but there is quite a list of painters I adore; and then there is music; and literature).

          Believing that style evolves almost naturally (if you stay on the bus), I do not much worry about style.
          But I think the issue you mention – “I have no idea what kind of photos I want to take” – also touches questions like: “How much narrative do I want in my pictures? If I represent objects, what would I do that for? Is it documentation or something else? What is an abstract photograph? And if there were something like an abstract photograph, what should be its content? Everybody says light is important, but what does that mean for me? Should it be a subject in itself?”

          But, truth be told: I kind of like the pictures I take when I travel, the kind of minimalist documentary that might be the pictures of the U3 stations in Hamburg, or from a Museum. But they do not really excite me – in music, I would call the Études rather than anything else. They help me understand a lot of things, both in reality and in photography. But they are not where I want to go.

          The pictures I really care about are the compositions I take ‘off’ advertising columns (“Litfass”), of ripped-off posters, or graffiti. In my blog, they seem less popular which may be just as fine – they are what I want to make for they have the kind of appearance and depth I seek. But where do I go from that standpoint without repeating myself?

          Sorry this answer is a bit long for a comment… I hope you’ll see that for me, photography means asking lots of questions, too. I’d love to hear if this all makes sense to you – in case you are interested in this conversation. Take care!

          1. Hi Tobias, thank you for taking your time to write this elaborate comment! I had to read it several times and think about it for a while since it asks very complex questions and I’m not sure if I can answer them/if I’ve fully grasped the concepts you talk about.

            If I understood it correctly, you speak of “photographic style” as something that covers all photos a photographer takes? It might be my ignorance, but when I see your photos in my feed, I know it’s you, because to me, they all have a similar, abstract style – whether it’s the photos you take when you travel, the ‘challenges’ (like the one with the miniature animals) or the advertising columns. The questions you ask yourself are already very ‘deep’ and focused on a rather specific type of photography (but then, I have no idea what the differences in abstract photography are).

            I on the other hand already struggle with the most simple things – I love portrait/fashion photography (whatever it is that I’m doing lately), but also documentary photography (in the original post, I didn’t know which path I wanted to follow). They are very different; one is putting an imagine together and creating something new, the other is taking what’s there and show my perspective on it.

            And I think that while I’m slowly developing an individual style in portraits/fashion, my other photos could be taken by anyone. I assume that having an individual style doesn’t mean having to focus on something, but having my signature on all photos I take, whatever they might be. And that sounds so challenging.

            I guess common themes that occur in my photography could be something that holds everything together.. and, of course, as you mentioned: the way I photograph.

            I’m afraid my comment doesn’t make a lot of sense since I’m very confused, but anyways, I’m glad you keep doing what you love even though it might not be as popular as your other work :)

            Have a lovely weekend and take care! :)

    1. I can relate completely witht he pressure of having to succeed and not fail, we ofthen do it to ourselves too much and casue our own insecurities.

      1. Thank you for your comment, Simon! Yes, I agree, we often think we have to live up to certain expectations from others, but actually they’re just inside our mind. I hope you can fight against that pressure! Have a beautiful week :)

        1. I’m not normally bothered about what others are doing or saying about me. You have a beautiful week too! :-)

    1. Great picture! The unknown is scary, and it takes a lot of time to discover yourself. (I still haven’t.) Keep going!

      1. Thank you very much! :) you too keep going on this road of self-discovery – take care x

    1. Hi there thank you for liking my poem Goat Lady. I really enjoyed what you had to say and I wanted to share something with you when I was married my husband said that he didn’t like the poetry that I wrote so for the next 12 years I didn’t write a single thing. It was only until I realized that I was going to divorce him that I could begin to write again it’s a sad thing to waste yourself on the comments or feelings of others about your work because ultimately your work is your mind soul and what makes you you it’s not just for others it’s just as important for it to be about yourself and for yourself do what you need to do for now because where you’re going what your style is really falls in change over the years. What I write dnow is so very different than what I wrote 30 years ago be yourself no matter what and don’t let others tell you who to be

      1. Hello, thank you so much for sharing your story with me and sorry for my late reply!
        The lesson you learnt is very powerful and valuable. I’m sorry you had to go through that, but you do sound more empowered now. Thank you for your encouragement, I’m going to keep going and hope don’t want to let anything or anyone bring me down. Take care!

Let me know what you think!

%d bloggers like this: