For the first time in a long time, I dove into the pitch black water on the pond we’ve visited for so many years at night. The water was deep black to me as I stood swaying on the dock before launching into a dive. Beneath the surface, I opened my eyes and looked up. What I saw resembled an open lens from the opposite side that I normally see, and it felt a lot like developing sheets of 4x5 film in the complete darkness, only the wet was wrapped all around me. Then I floated up to see a slathering of stars and possibility. I’ve found that what I really want to do is get to the bottom so that I can look up, to delve inward, to make work that speaks to what is happening inside me.
Photography has become my life ring in the tumultuous role of motherhood. It’s the handle I grasp when navigating the wavy ambiguity in parenting that surrounds me. The picture puts a stop in the valve, slowing time, and showing me that everything is going as it’s meant to be. It has become an extension of myself, almost like a sixth sense - necessary for me to survive. I can create space for myself to breathe within the frames, find comfort in the dappled light, and solidarity in the shadows. It’s as if I am bottling up the fleeting feelings so that I can enjoy them later, again and again.
Not long after I began taking pictures of my children, I started to wonder how I could make my pictures better. In following a few online workshops, I began to see the light, the reflections and spaces in a way I had unimaginably ignored till then. I was catalyzed into a state of frenzy with experimentation. I would lay on the floor, watching the light in their eyes or the shadows behind them, trying to make images that matched their levels of emotion, energy, and imagination.
I learned with Cig Harvey this summer in The Personal Story that I am in the midst of a disruption. Things are ambiguous because it’s not enough for me anymore to just observe and photograph my children doing their things. A hyperawareness has settled upon me and thrown me off my usual pattern of vibrant images that blended in with the images shared by other mothers on the online forums. I am now more drawn to darker images of a subdued melancholy juxtaposed against the thriving natural surroundings where we live.
I am hoping that this place I now find myself opens the opportunity for ideas to come from new, unexpected places. I am ready for a deeper exploration and expansion, and change for myself. The curiosity I feel for what is next has my heart aflutter. I am finding myself more tired than normal with the weight of all the emotions inside me.
The ambiguity and fear are always present, and now welcome as they circle around me. as given me a renewed sense of awe and wonder for what I can achieve with a camera with a foray into medium and large format film. I’ve written myself a permission slip to make lots of mistakes, and play with what I cannot see while photographing. It’s the light leaks, accidental double exposures, and elusive out of focus that draw me into wanting more. I’ve discovered that it’s in the missteps that I have a fuller experience in creating images. The multiple exposures, blurs and reflections, and bringing the lens underwater have become like my new brushes and filters as I dabble and create in a way that is different from everything else I do in my life.
Maybe it’s the metaphorical letting go, yet being present for what is to be received. I think it is already starting to happen to me in the past few months. I aim to delve further into this fascination, to elevate my learning in a community of others who share my curiosity. I want to uncover what this insatiable yearning towards photography is all about for me. I also want to understand the work of those who have come before me, as well as those who are like me now and understand how I can bring all of it to a more meaningful fruition in the community by way of the ongoing open dialogue and methodical practice in the MFA program.