Attempts at Inspiration, On a Serious Note, Rambling

Signs of a Struggle

Oh Narcissus…

You know those arty pictures? The ones that aren’t about a pretty model or trying to sell something? They tell a story. Yes, those ones. Anyway…

I’ve been wanting to do something like that for quite some time now. But it’s not that simple. I’m not a model by any means. I might be tall enough, but I don’t have the face or the body. And honestly, it’s never been an aspiration of mine. But I got an idea. Ever since I looked at the pictures on my late father’s camera last year, I started to look at photography differently. I realized that images, no matter how complex or simple they may be, can have a profound impact on people.

Whenever I do photo shoots for my acting portfolio I feel like a generic version of myself. I don’t recognize myself behind all the lighting and editing. I sit there with a smile, and not much behind it. And of course I understand this. I need to look my best for all the casting agents. But sometimes I wonder what they think when I show up looking like… myself.

I stumbled across a magazine called Dark Beauty on Facebook. They post the most wonderful pictures that are, well, dark and beautiful. What I love most about the pictures is that they often use normal looking people, like me.

But how to go about it?

I tried finding out from the modelling world online, but a lot of them are from the You can’t sit with us generation. I got some snotty replies or simply no replies at all. I shrugged my shoulders and left it.

A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend about this and she told me that she could find me a photographer. Being a part time model herself, she knows quite a few. Next thing I knew, I was in contact with a photographer called Andrew Shillinglaw and we arranged a date and location.

It all happened quite fast and I had to stop and think about what I wanted to do. I knew that I wanted to somehow tell a story. That is essentially what I am – a storyteller. I also wanted to express myself, because I’ve found that my work that comes from a personal place tends to be more effective.

My story, you ask.

The last two years of my life have been tough. I lost three people – my friend Jodie, my grandmother, and most recently my father. And as always I have been battling depression. Sometimes I fear that I am heading towards another depressive episode. Bipolar disorder works in cycles. In my case, the heavily depressive episodes have come every three years – when I was 15, 18, and 21. I am now 24 and I am scared of falling into that darkness again. The signs are there. Sometimes I feel so heavy (my body literally feels like it’s made of concrete and that I can’t move), my speech slurs, and sometimes I have a hard time remembering or keeping track of time. I’ve been gaining weight. I struggle to find enjoyment in anything. But in dealing with my loss I’m not always sure if I’m depressed or simply grieving.

Or both? I don’t know.

So I thought about it and I put it together. I knew that I wanted it to be in a forgotten, deserted setting. I wanted it to look like a mundane area where nothing happens anymore. And in contrast I wanted to look like I didn’t belong there. I wanted to look like some strange creature that had fallen from the sky into this random spot. I don’t know much about makeup, but it was one of my subjects in college. And it didn’t matter, because I wanted it to look smudged. I wanted to look how I feel: tired and worn out.

And this is what we did:

4

This specific look is reminiscent of a character I played on stage two years ago, before everything happened. This is how I imagine that comical character would have turned out. It also symbolizes my love/hate relationship with acting.

6

This picture kind of happened by accident. I saw the mask in a shop the morning of the shoot and decided that I had to have it (I already had the wig, naturally). Many people have said that this is their favorite shot. I’m not sure of how to feel about that, because you can’t see my face! But then again, I am very good at hiding behind different masks to make it through life. Therefore I also really like it.

1

I bought this over-sized top specifically for the shoot. In my high school years I was overweight, and it was a big issue for me. In my college years I lost 15kg and went from XL to Medium. Although I have a thinner body, it still doesn’t mean that I’m not insecure about it. Looking at this picture i still see my love handles, belly, and double chin that just won’t leave.

2

So I just put my mask on again…

3

I’m trying to make sense of it. I’m trying to move on. To be strong. To forgive myself and others. To be happy again. But I often find myself just trying to hold on. Just getting by.

Thank you to Andrew for your great work. You guys can go and take a look at some of his other pictures on his Facebook page.

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7 thoughts on “Signs of a Struggle

  1. sharonp1us says:

    The mask picture is a favorite because it’s clear and simple. Think about the characters in South Park and how that affects the message. This is the artist’s tool. I like your experimentation with drama and photography. I find the contrast between the first and last picture appealing.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Angela Majozi says:

    I have know you for most of my primary and high school years. Well at least I thought I did. The unmasked you is the you that I long to know, I wanna know more about your woes, know more about your struggles cause that is who Wentzel Lombard really is. I feel robbed yet again this is your journey. I do want to say that I am proud of the man you have become, the man who will dare to be real, the man who will dare to be bold, the man that won’t be ashamed to be who they really are and the man that is raising awareness about the masks that people wear in day to day lives. Unmasked Wentzel Lombard you are an inspiration to me not only as an artist but as a human being who is discovering herself

    Liked by 1 person

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