Good morning, everyone! Once again I am here in the early hours of the morning with my eyes wide open. These summer nights really do mess up the inner clock, and it’s the same thing every year. Vibrant days, bright nights. It is like an endless kaleidoscope of shifting colours and lights. Mornings are like a dreamy haze, but I keep waiting for the mist which has yet to grace us with its mystical presence. The days are covered in a white film which leaves you blind as you step back inside, if only for a few seconds. And the evenings–these evenings simply glow.
Today I decided to practice getting more comfortable in front of the camera. I am too aware of that it’s there and end up thinking too much of what I want it to look like when I should just let go and feel. Sometimes that shows in my photos, and other times not. So out of the two hundred photos I took of myself today I have selected only a few.
This isn’t actually so different from how nervous I was before I had to get up and do a presentation in front of the class back in school. I remember one of my teachers from Härnösand Folk High. Two other classmates and I had been on a seminar in Stockholm, and when we got back we were supposed to talk about our trip and the seminar in front of the class. I told my teacher about how I kept freaking out, I had no idea what to say, and I felt physically ill. He gave me some incredible advice that day which I have not forgotten since. He said (not in these exact words, perhaps): No one but you know what you are going to say, so no one will know if you mess up. And no one else but you can speak for you and how you perceive things.
In the end it all came down to being myself–daring to be myself. Not what I imagined was expected of me, not what I thought others wanted to hear. Just me and my words and my own experiences. Of course, afterwards I used to obsess excessively over what I had said and how that might have come across. Did I offend anyone? Did I say something that might have sounded odd or could have been perceived badly? Did I say too little? Too much? Did I sound awkward? Admittedly, that little voice of insecurity still pops up at times. These days, however, I am better equipped to let that voice be, to challenge its convictions. Also, I remind myself that we are billions of people on this planet–an unimaginably big place vibrant with cultures and beliefs, perceptions and opinions. We will always run into those who have lived very different lives than us, that are shaped by their own experiences and I believe more or less each and every one of us have our own truth. We are all on a journey to explore that truth. I see it the way I look at light and shadows falling across a rock on the ground. If I stand where the light shines, I only see that angle. I know a shadow falls behind the rock, but unless I move to look I cannot possibly know what is in the shade. And every movement around that rock will give me a different view. If I took a photo for every step it would show something new.
I believe it is just as simple with people. Simple, but I won’t claim it’s easy, because it’s not. I have chosen, though, to in the best of my ability always strive for acceptance of all these truths, whether I know them or understand them or don’t. And to remember I gain nothing from getting anxious or worried about what others may or may not think. And most importantly, different does not equal wrong, it is not its synonym. Different is just different.
All throughout my time at Härnösand Folk High I challenged that voice–the many different voices of old perceptions, narrowed and bound. I stretched my limits. Sometimes I tried too hard, went too fast and was too eager when I noticed what a kick it was to break free. That, yes, I can do this. But I also had moments when I wanted to pull back into my safe cocoon. I did, too–in conjunction with that presentation of the seminar I was suffering from anemia, so it was easy to accept a sickness leave. I was gone from school for three weeks. I had taken those firsts steps, though, and suddenly sitting alone in my apartment and watching Netflix didn’t give me the escape I thought I had longed for, and I kept berating myself. I, who was diagnosed with social phobia, wanted to be back among my new classmates and teachers, even if I didn’t really know any of them yet. As I have come to wonder now later on is that perhaps I didn’t ever have a phobia, rather I was constantly running on empty by not knowing how to listen to my own needs. I need my own time, I know this now, but what I was missing, what I didn’t understand, was the balance between the two. What I didn’t know how to was to say no, to say I would rather sit at home today and read or write or whatever else I enjoyed doing on my own.
So. I am now going to challenge myself in front of my own camera. For a while now I have had some ideas for photo art projects. They came to me when I shot a severely underexposed photo, and while trying to fix it in Lightroom it ended up looking more like a painting than a photograph. It gave me the same feeling as the illustrations in the children’s books my grandmother used to have. Artists such as John Bauer and Elsa Beskow. Their pictures are so special. So magical. So imaginative and creative–the way only children’s stories and fairy tales can be. My grandmother also passed away in December last year which hit me incredibly hard, so I kind of want to do it partly to celebrate and honour all the ways she enriched my childhood. I miss her so much my heart can barely take it when I think too long about it.
Another part is that I feel so immensely inspired and encouraged to keep following this endeavour by a wonderful Swedish artist, blogger and photographer who, amazingly, actually did an interpretation of a John Bauer illustration some years ago. I remember the first time I saw it, about two years ago now–my jaw dropped. I think I wrote a comment on how it made me think of this particular John Bauer picture–and later on I read that she, too, loves his art. And the story behind that image she created is just mindblowing. I can’t find words to describe how I felt. It transcends what I accept as reality–it is the kind of experience that makes you truly wonder how this universe works beyond what science can explain. Her name is Jonna Jinton, and if you haven’t already heard of her then I cannot urge you enough to visit her blog and have a look at her art.
It is one thing to do a yoga-ballet pose on top of a mountain, facing away from the camera, but another to convey a feeling that matches the visions I have for the art I want to create. It will require emotion and immersion, dedication and battling a lot of frustration and failures as I go along, I am sure. I have been afraid to do this, and I have thought that I should get better at photography first, better at editing and learn more about Photoshop before I even share my ideas. But earlier today as I wrote in my journal, I asked myself isn’t the process the very thing I wanted to share? The very reason I started the blog was because I figured out that waiting for the right time results in nothing but waiting.
So, once gain I will say that here I am, then. I am just going to go for it. And, as always, thank you so much for reading. It really means so much to me. ❤