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:
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.