When I first bought this little snappy camera that lives in my pocket, it was under the (obvious) influence of Jason Evans, following many a night sat around his kitchen table. Jason’s little camera, he said at the time, kept him engaged, kept his “eye” in focus and — most importantly — reminded him to see the joy in life. I used to get frustrated when people around me would criticise the obvious influence, in that it made “my work” derivative. In truth, it was never something I considered my “work” anyway. It came out of many frank discussions on various occasions over the years about our mental health. In late 2011, “positive affirmations” was the phrase of the moment — train your eye to look out for the joys of colour and form in the world around you as therapy; as a practice outside of your “Practice”. Struggling more than I cared to admit to myself, a focus on the joy of the everyday without overly aestheticising or fetishising it felt revolutionary in my life at that moment as someone who, for better or for worse, has an anally rigid eye for composition in most other instances.
The reason I’ve kept taking these pictures since has largely been as therapy and self-care. It’s a ritual of looking for the nice so I naturally feel the nice — an alternative to SSRIs. It doesn’t work all the time. Sometimes it becomes too normalised and habitual and loses its power. I’ve also grown to find the concept of positive affirmation a bit lacking over the last few years – because, in some circumstances, it is a sure-fire way to repression – but celebrating the therapeutic value of these blog posts is still important to me, especially right now, and since too many of these Untitled #?? posts slide by without commentary, now feels like a good time to reaffirm them.
These past few weeks I haven’t been doing so well with my mental health and so reminding myself of these things has been really worthwhile. Not just finding the joyful for the sake of it but finding humour in the melancholy too. More than anything, I need to say thank you to the people in these pictures who mean very much to me right now – and those who aren’t here also who hung out with me and let me crash at their places and put makeup on me and chatted shit late into the night with me, often without knowing what has been going on. I am not very good at answering the quotidian “How are you?” with anything but “I’m alright!” but those people who didn’t run a mile when it became more apparent that I wasn’t alright are appreciated more than they can know. I wish I had more pictures of your faces. Looking back over the pictures I do have is working wonders for me at the moment.
This isn’t really the place for this… But feel like I need to say it somewhere… When I’m feeling insecure, thinking that these images; this blog must represent the central part of my photographic practice, I have to remind myself that self-care is more important than freelance aspirations.
Saltend Chemicals Park is one of my favourite places to take pictures in the Hull area. A monstrous mesh of chrome pipes emerging from overgrown edgelands, it’s arguably the most attractive of Hull’s industrial sites. The last time I was there was on a video shoot with La Bête Blooms almost three years ago. The stills I took that day went unused but repeatedly float to the surface when I dive into my archive. With a proper photo shoot on the cards, I went down there again with lead bloomer Dan Mawer to poke around and do some test shots.