Chris J Roe

Chris Roe

Chris J Roe is a photographer based in Hampshire (UK). His recent project (and photobook) Shadows documents his "struggle with depression in an attempt to visually present the inner workings" of his mind.

What's your background in photography? How would you describe your work and how did you get started?

I would say that I started photographing very young. I was brought up by my grandmother who tirelessly documented my early life in an attempt to provide a positive spin on the negative circumstances that brought me into her care to begin with. Over the last ten years I have dipped in and out of photography as my love for it was never consistent until quite recently. I dropped out of a college diploma in photography six months into a 2 year course due to the anxiety of being in a classroom environment (something I struggled with in school and lead to me leaving prematurely there too.) I think I was also still a child mentally. I didn't really appreciate the opportunities I had at college.

I came across your work on Instagram and was instantly struck by your dedication to shooting black and white. What is it that attracts you to shooting in that format?

I sometimes shoot colour images although I rarely share these. There is something simple about black and white that perhaps appeals to my lazy tendencies. I find it much easier to capture a mood, or convey emotion through monochrome. Without sounding too pretentious I think it represents me best. I am a fairly straightforward 'black and white' person and I find it hard to see the beauty that others do in is almost as though its a distraction to me.

Chris J Roe

Chris J Roe

Your recent photobook Shadows documents your experiences with depression, combining image and text. How did the book come about?

The book, like many other final product ideas had been swilling around in my head for about six months. I had originally intended to offer it as print only as I had been so inspired by many other's zines and books that I got into a bit of a habit of buying but felt that digital first would make sense. Not everyone has the money to spend on books and I feel generally weird about the idea of asking for money for something I was likely to be doing anyway. Regardless I wanted to bring some of my favourites images together to see them contribute to an 'end game' a final process. I always feel there has to be a conclusion.

Shadows is full of often quite bleak images of solitary figures taken amongst the urban city landscape. What is your process for shooting like?

My process for capturing the images in the book is almost subconscious. I don't ever go out with a specific idea of what I want to photograph, rather I let the scenes develop in front of me. I prefer harsh light and shadow so rarely go out on a day when it is raining and despite spending a lot of my weekends in London I am drawn to the alleyways over the brightly lit tourist areas...I am too easily frustrated by the packed streets as I walk fast and tourists just generally get on my nerves (like I probably do when I travel to their countries haha). To be honest almost all of the images in the digital book are taken on my phone...I was fairly far into this project before I started shooting film again so when it comes to editing all images go through a preset on Snapseed to crush the shadows and isolate the subjects the best I can.

Chris J Roe

Chris J Roe

Chris J Roe

What is it that you like about phone photography?

The phone appeals for many reasons. My impatience is satisfied by the ability to not only see the final product instantly but to have such a large live viewfinder that no other camera can offer. I used to enjoy using an X100T for its EVF (electronic view finder) but I got rid of the camera because it wasn’t portable enough.

The phone is always with me and is not intimidating, while I’m not shooting aggressively on the street like Bruce Gilden, my entire ethos in life is to carry the least amount of weight as possible and be swift with my decisions. The phone does all I need it to. This is coming from someone who owned a full frame DSLR just three years ago so I have a benchmark to compare it to but image quality isn’t that important to me. Flexibility is paramount.

I'm curious about the emotional process of making your work. What does it feel like to be shooting these images and are you waiting to construct an image with a specific feeling to it, or recording fleeting moments of strangers?

When I shoot I am usually numb. While I have no real plan when I go out I fall into this sort of robotic subconscious march until I've run out of good light or I've done at least 10 miles and my legs hurt! I think I get immersed in the process to an extent where it becomes almost meditative. It is only when I look back on the images at the end of the day (I try to avoid even looking at them until I have finished as I feel my wins and losses can break the flow discussed above) do I feel something. It is usually a mix of adrenaline from getting something that really resonates with me on a certain level and intrigue about who the person was in the frame. I try to capture a sole figure in the frame, a metaphor for how isolated I feel a lot of the time from others. While I am not a 'loner' I definitely find it hard to connect with other people and spend the smallest amount of time possible in social's not for me. I think I try to show that with these images.

What function does writing serve for you and what made you choose to combine both image and text together in the book?

Writing was my first love. I used to fill pads of paper with stories when I was younger about my toys going on adventures and exploring the fantasies of a young mind sometimes as a distraction from my childhood. My upbringing prior to living with my grandmother was without love or any sense of recognition so I turned to writing as an act of control. I could create whatever I wanted in my stories and so I used them to escape. While some prefer to storytell solely with photographs, I feel that the written word and an image can compliment each other. Certain emotions lend themselves to different mediums as the best form to communicate them, so I thought why not combine the two.

Chris J Roe

Chris J Roe

What made you decide on a book format for Shadows?

I wanted to communicate the project in an easily digestible way. To be honest the book format just happened to work when I began playing the Apple Pages on my iPad. It took about three hours but I got into a period of deep concentration and before I knew it I had a few less than 20 pages staring back at me. I still feel that the project is not complete until I have a printed copy in my hand though. Only then will it feel real.

What do you hope people take away from the work?

There was no real intention behind the creation of the book other than personal therapy I guess. While I enjoy the social aspects of instagram and value some of the friendships I have made there over the past year or so, when it comes to my hopes for how the project is received by others, I have no particular expectations. If someone were to come across the book and the words and images were to resonate with them on a deep level, I would be flattered but it is hard to gauge how an outsider will view a personal body of work. I think this is the best way to approach a creative work. Do not let yourself be led by expectation or influence and put something out that you would have created regardless of whether you had an audience or not to begin with., then it is honest and genuine....I think people are attracted to that.
@chrisjroe on Instagram
@chrisjroe on Twitter

Alice Guardado

Alice Guardado is a photographer currently based in Houston, Texas. She holds a BFA in Photography from the University of North Texas and is currently pursuing her Masters degree at SCAD in Savannah, Georgia. Through photography, she is able to express her experiences to others that might be going through similar complications. Her project Gone was made in response to her parents separation, forcing her to be confronted with memories and recollections leading to emotional instability and anxiety.

What is your background in photography — how did you get your start and what is it that you love about the medium?

I started taking photographs with a small point and shoot given by my mother in high school, where I instantly felt a need to photograph my surroundings. From then, I knew I wanted to pursue a BFA in photography from the University of North Texas. I became passionate about the medium after taking my first history of photography course in college, where I learned about its history, alternative processes, and theories.

How did Gone come about?

The series Gone developed from a need in documenting my emotions towards my parents recent separation. After my father left, I realized his absence was not the cause of my unstable emotions, it was the realization of our distant relationship throughout my childhood. This became the effect of my loss of identity; feeling lost, hopeless, and hollow inside. Documenting these feelings became a way of coping with the struggle.

Alice Guardadoa

Alice Guardadoa

Gone seems to be compiled of fragmented images, combining elements of self-portraits, double exposures and family archives. Can you talk us through the elements of the project and what they represent to you?

The self-portraits are a representation of the emotional component of the work, the double exposures reflect those childhood memories intervening with my current state. There is a sense of duality in the work which is seen through the diptychs. The tangible objects represent an aura of past memories combined with found photographs of my childhood. There is definitely a push and pull effect in my work between the healing process and the anxiety in my self-portraits.

Alice Guardadoa

Alice Guardadoa

Alice Guardadoa

What has the project helped you to work through (emotionally), if anything?

This project has helped me relieve some of the tension and anxiety within myself, although I might still continue to experience some of these emotional factors, they are not as strong as they were before I started this project. In a way, it gave me the opportunity to contemplate on past memories and better identify myself.

How does it feel to share such personal work? What have responses been so far?

Sharing such personal work can be quite challenging and scary at the same time. Initially, I felt self-conscious about showing that side of me, it can become difficult to talk about those feelings, but through photographs I can express them freely in a way where other individuals can come to appreciate and relate to my personal experiences. In addition, demonstrating to the viewer that they are not alone if ever experiencing a similar situation. It is a way to help others cope with their struggles of losing a loved one and at the same time showing that there is hope when facing these personal struggles.

Alice Guardadoa

What are you working on now?

Currently, I am still exploring this subject matter as my thesis project for my M.F.A program. I have always had an interest for exploring my own identity further through photography, and this project has motivated me to continue making work that reflects any mental illness or emotional distress caused by a variety of personal reasons.

@guardado.alice on Instagram

Mafalda Rakoš

Mafalda Rakoš is a photographer based in Vienna, Austria, focusing primarily on social issues and their impact on the protagonists’ realities of life. She holds a BA in Anthropology from Vienna University and is currently enrolled at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. Since 2011 she has realised various long-time projects in Vienna and other regions of the world such as the Middle East, India and West Africa. Her project I want to disappear is an in-depth and touching account of those affected by eating disorders. Her photo book of the work is now available to pre-order on her website.

What is your background in photography — how did you get started and how would you describe your approach?

When I was 14, I switched to a high school that was very focused on photography in Vienna. Almost since then, I started to work on my own projects. My approach is very documentarist, but there is often a very close link between me and my protagonists. I mainly work long-term, and have a background in anthropology as well, which has also influenced my practise a lot.

What was starting point for I want to disappear?

I was affected by an eating disorder as well and found that it was a very important subject to talk about. The phenomenon almost only occurs in industrialized countries, and the number of people who are affected is much higher than someone would assume. Nevertheless, it's still highly stigmatized and invisible - I wanted to contribute something to the discourse around eating disorders that shows a less extreme picture and raises awareness that it's less about food and looks and more about a general feeling of insecurity.

C. has been suffering from Anorexia and Bulimia for several years. The picture shows the burn marks she is continously receiving from hot-water-bottles. "I am always cold. I don't know why. I feel that I cannot sleep anymore without this thing, but I always make it too hot.. I don't know why. I guess I don't care."
C. has been suffering from Bulimia and Anorexia since her early adolescence. According to her, she is rather addicted to purging than to being thin. She lives on her own in Vienna and dreams of studying medicine once things are better.

The project is layered with portraits, interviews and documents used to explore the complexity of eating disorders. How did you decide on this approach and how integral is it in representing those that you collaborated with?

Collaborating with the protagonists was crucial in this process. The topic is so intimate that I quickly realized I had to give them all the space and options in participating in the project they could think of. It wasn't easy to let go of control in the beginning, but in the end I am really happy and grateful for how openly everyone shared their experiences with me. I think everyone was extremely brave. Of course the juxtaposition and the project itself are only my interpretation of all this material, but everyone was extremely positive about its outcome. This was very, very important for me.

Ulrike suffers from Bulimia and Anorexia. Her story is long and complicated and reaches back to her grandparent's generation. According to her, food and eating always were difficult topics and her family. The feeling of being to fat has accompanied her since early childhood days - and finally lead her into a mode of life where phases of restrictiveness alternate with those of extreme bingeing and purging.

Even though the disorder occupies a high significance, it is still incapable to shut her down entirely. Ulrike studies at a local Art Academy and hopes to find an occupation in her life that truly fulfills her.

Waiting Room, Vienna 2014. Underlying: a sheet designed by one of the protagonists after a long stay in an clinical institution specialized for eating disorders. "I don't know what would have happened to me if I wouldn't have gone there. It was a very big step. Somehow I am grateful that I had this illness - I learned a lot of things about myself ... that I probably wouldn't have learned otherwise."

What was the process of getting to know those that you collaborated with?

All in all, it took me almost more than a year to find the right way of approaching possible protagonists. In the beginning, I worked with friends and acquaintances (indeed, the phenomenon is very widespread - it wasn't difficult at all to find people who are affected), and then found a self-help group for eating disorders, which I joined and regularly attended. Many of the people in the book are from this group. I found an amazingly inspiring group of people, and a lot of them were willing to participate. The group was really aware of the project and that it wouldn't focus so much on the individual's drama, but more on the phenomenon in general. I think that helped a lot, since people knew each other and had the feeling that they're not having their "coming out" all by themselves.

How long did your spend with each person in the project and how did the project develop into a collaboration?

The collaborative approach kind of happened naturally on the way, and it was different for every person. Some I met on a regular basis and some only once or twice. Usually we would first meet up for a very open interview, which I recorded and transcribed afterwards. Then we thought together about how and with what the person would like to step into the project. Many of them didn't want to be photographed but gave me documents, drawings or sculptures they've made - others were very open about having their portraits taken, and shared everything very openly with me. I realized that this made it much easier for contribute, and that it was crucial that we succeeded in creating a safe space for this exchange. I tried to be as careful as possible when asking difficult questions and their possible triggering effect. Anyhow, I have to say that I also learned that people affected by an eating disorder are not made out of sugar at all - rather on the contrary.

Katharina suffered from Anorexia as an adolescent.

Her mother remembers: "She wouldn’t eat anything anymore, except for apples and pretzels. At some point I started going to the gas station every morning to buy bread rolls – so that we would have them in the house, at all times. In summer we went on a hiking trip. That wasn’t easy. My biggest concern was whether we could buy those damn rolls there – If not, my child would starve."

"This picture, where I am leaning in front of the bathroom is somehow special for me, even though I didn’t think about it when you took it. It makes me think about how often and at what stage I went through this door... I thought I smiled much more when you photographed me, but now the observer can actually really see how I feel. I avoid contact with others, and I am so occupied with food, purging, and sports all the time, it‘s like beneath a glass cover. For me, this is what the picture shows."

What are the most poignant moments for you of making the work?

I think a lot of the most poignant moments happened in the beginning of the project. Sometimes I would meet up with people who were interested in taking part, but after a first meeting they quit and said that they didn't feel comfortable or ready for it. It made me realize that I really needed to create another level of communication in this project and never try to force something, in order to build a solid base of trust. That's when I started to change my approach to a much more collaborative one. Another very important moment always happens when someone who is affected or who is part of the project looks at the book and is completely positive and enthusiastic about it. It feels extremely good to get the impression that the work is really fulfilling its aim, and those who are involved fully support it.

What are your hopes for the work?

At first, I hope that it'll be able to reach people who are affected by an eating disorder, and that reading and looking at it will help to relieve those feelings of shame and loneliness which are so strong in this illness. Further, I hope that viewers in general will reconsider their preconceptions about eating disorders and get a better insight into what it's like to be affected. I think in general everyone can relate to it when presented less about food and more as a coping mechanism. Who does not feel lost, insecure, or stressed some time?

"For me, it shows the ambivalence of food and eating in general. I think the knives look very brutal. It‘s like fighting yourself every time you eat a piece of bread."
M. suffered from Bulimia for almost 6 years, but finally succeeded in overcoming the illness after a long-term stay at a local clinic. She definitely considers herself as not affected by this diseases anymore. Nevertheless, she regularly attends a self help group to exchange with others who are struggling with eating disorders. Marie is an inspirational person for many of them - listening to her optimistic and strong statements often gives other participants courage to work further towards their own self-acceptance.

Do you still keep in touch with those that took part in the project?

Yes, definitley! With some rather loosely, but in general we have a good relationship, and a lot of them were friends of mine before the project.

What are you working on now?

Producing and printing the book is almost like a project on itself, but we're slowly reaching our final destination. For my study at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, I am now starting a project about hitchhiking and the highway. It's still very much at its beginning, but probably will prove itself as another technique of disappearing.
@mafaldarakos on Instagram

Clary Estes

Clary Estes is a photojournalist from Kentucky, USA. Her work does not merely document a story straight on; rather, it analyses and re-analyses the story over the course of months and years to show the dynamic and complex nature of the stories we live. Clary graduated with a Masters Degree in New Media Photojournalism from the Corcoran College of Art and Design in 2013 she moved to Japan as an Ishibashi Zaidan Photography Research Fellow with Nagoya University for two years. She is now living and working in rural Moldova with the Peace Corps. As a storyteller, Estes’ interests lie in long-term documentary projects focused on underserved, obscure communities. Her work My Diaspora is an attempt to understand her life split in two, the life she lives now and the memories that still feel so real to her.

How did you get into photography and how would you describe your work?

My interest in photography began when I was young, but didn't really take form until I went to college. I remember the first time I picked up a camera was around the age of 12 when my family and I were at a horse race and my mother gave me a camera to stave off boredom. Something clicked that day and I always had the idea of becoming a photographer in the back of my mind. Once I got to college I picked up photography again to cope with the many physics classes I was taking and used it as a creative outlet to address the stress of school. Long story short, I made the slow switch from physics to photography. As I work now I definitely have noticed a few recurring themes. I tend to work with people who are never asked their story, but have an incredibly interesting story to tell. This has me going to VERY rural places all over the world. I also end up working with many elderly people and as a result I have photographed death quite a bit. I even had a friend jokingly say that I was "quite the death photographer" recently and I can't say he is wrong. This can be extremely hard at times. Watching friends die is never easy.

You mention that your work My Diaspora has been a coping mechanism for your first time living abroad. Where were you moving to and what were the difficulties that you were facing?

My Diaspora came about at the beginning and end of my time in Japan. I lived in Japan for 2-years on a fellowship that allowed me to independently work on projects. I started working on My Diaspora because I noticed that my mind always seems to be stuck half-way in another country. I would have moments where the memory of my life and experiences before coming to Japan were just as strong as the new experiences I was having. This is a phenomenon that has continued throughout my life. I typically move a great deal from place to place; every two years I seem to be somewhere new, thus, I am constantly balancing understanding what I had just gone through with new experiences coming in. It can be very discombobulating at times.

There can be something playful but also uncanny about your technique in the images. Can you talk us through how and why you decided on the layering and what it signifies?

The layering of images is my attempt to convey memories that feel very alive within my body. I would pose for a photo in Japan and then take images that I had made while still at home in Kentucky and overlay them onto my body. This is at least how I started the project. The photos in Japan were always in black and white, while the images from Kentucky were always in color. I was trying to show the voracity of my memories by damping down any image made in Japan - like the memory was more real than the life I was living. However, once I picked the project back up at the end of my stay in Japan I started putting overlaid Japan images and myself in the color images I had made in Kentucky, effectively flipping the narrative. For consistency I kept images from Japan in black and white. Now the memories and experiences in Japan felt more real than those in Kentucky. I started feeling more at home in Japan than in my home town.

You're often on the road and traveling — what does photography provide you with when you're far away from familiarity?

I travel because I am a photographer so the reason for living in all these different places is to work on a new project. I use photography to explore the places I am in and to understand them better. Photography is my excuse to constantly be a student.

I imagine the work looks very different in print than on screen due to its 3D feel. Have you exhibited the work, or are you planning on showing it soon?

I have exhibited this project a bit here and there. I typically work in documentary photography and this project is obviously a bit more fine art so I am working with a different audience for it. This is one of the reasons I have only shown it a bit here and there, navigating the two worlds can be a bit overwhelming.

Is there a particular image that is a favourite? Can you talk us through why?

I like the lead image where I am curled up in a ball on the bed with my hand fading out of the overlaid image of my head. It is not the most popular image, but I like it. It is a bit confusing and unclear and maybe even a little uncomfortable, all things that I enjoy as a photographer.

What do you hope viewers take from the work?

I am not sure really. This project was so personal that I have a hard time seeing it objectively. I even have the feeling that the project is not really that good at times. I suppose I hope to try and show a vulnerable side of my self to viewers and maybe they will see a bit of themselves in the project as well.

What are you working on now?

I am working on a project called Those Who Remain about former deportees from Moldova. It is a huge project and has been very tumultuous lately but it is extremely important and I feel very strongly that it needs to be told. For my info, you can go here.
Clary Estes on Facebook

Danny Day

Danny Day is a fine art photographer and recent photography graduate from the Cleveland College of Art and Design. Through his background in healthcare and through his own experiences, he uses photography to explore and express the complexity and difficulties of mental illness. In his project You & I he revisits his childhood school in an investigation into memory.

Can you remember the first moment that attracted you to photography?

I wouldn't personally say I was 'attracted' to photography, rather, I fell into by accident. In my early 20's I experienced a lot of chest pain, thankfully nothing serious, but of course to me it was, and I've only just recently concluded that it was actually due to anxiety. During that time, I found that taking long walks would help, and on one particular occasion, I took my parents digital camera with me, and my journey with photography began from there. I discovered that it kept my mind occupied, and the outside world transformed from something that just 'existed', to something that I wanted to document, observe and examine. Gradually, my chest pains alleviated, and so too did my anxiety.

How did the fascination with re-visiting your junior school come about?

The truth is, I've held a fascination with my memories from junior school for a long time, even since my late teens. I would say, less of a fascination, more of a fixation. I used to tell myself such a fixation was unhealthy, because how can you move forward in life, when you're stuck in the past? None of those memories would ever let me go, and in a sense I became somewhat obsessed by them. They weren't hurtful or upsetting memories, but rather a collection of moments in time when my childish mind posed questions that, interestingly enough, a child cannot even understand themselves. Those memories, and those questions, have stuck with me throughout my whole life, and it's only now, after being able to revisit the school, have I finally gotten close to being able to provide myself, and my inner child if you will, something of an answer.

Danny Day

Danny Day

You mention that your background in health care (as an Emergency Medical Dispatcher) and your own experiences with depression, addiction and anxiety have led you to create visual works exploring mental illness. What is it that photography provides for you that other mediums or forms of expression can’t?

Photography, I've discovered, is the only medium that provides me with the opportunity to both question and learn about myself. In fact, it sometimes tortures me. Its most powerful images remain burnt into my visual memory, almost becoming a scar that lingers. I have no control over this, instead, I'm left with more questions, than answers. Its stillness and silence demands study, provoking my imagination into filling in the gaps. What can I hear? What can I smell? What do I feel, and furthermore, why? Why am I even looking at this picture? What am I searching for? Why am I searching? What do I hope to discover and learn about myself? The questions never end, and that's why I love photography, or even at times, hate photography for this continuing questioning of self, rather than being able to find comfort.

Danny Day

Danny Day

What did it feel like to be back in that space? How accurate did your memories feel once back in the school?

To be back in that space was somewhat overwhelming. For all those years I'd held onto all of these memories, and suddenly I was left with a stark realisation, quite simply, that I have grown up. My memories were intact, but my experience of some of those memories, were the experiences of a child, and there I was now, an adult. Suddenly, those hallways didn't seem as big and daunting as I remembered, that tree didn't seem as quite as powerful and overbearing as I recalled, those things were still there, but my experience of them, 20 years later, was different. Walking around the school was strange, I felt like a giant, and rather than being back in those memories again, I felt myself watching myself as a child, as if watching the ghosts of my past as they played.

What is the importance of putting yourself in the frame within this project?

Placing myself within the frame became integral to this project. I felt the use of the hand worked well here. My hand, clearly that of an adult, reaching out to touch these spaces and objects once more, in an attempt to reconnect, rediscover, and learn. Accept 20 years later, the lessons are no longer that of Maths or Science, but of the 'self'. One of my favourite images from this series is the one in the bathroom. Everything clearly designed for children, the small urinals, the mirror placed at the height of a child, reflecting my feet. As a child, I always used to play with my hands and feet, being remembered of that, and seeing my own adult feet in this Junior School was a unique feeling. But again, important for the project, to visually represent this idea of 'growth' and 'growing up' - essentially, trying to suggest that ironically, in order to 'grow up' or 'accept' the idea of 'growing up' - I have to return to junior school.

Danny Day

Danny Day

Danny Day

Danny Day

How has You & I changed the way that you think about memory, if at all?

This project has provided me with visual proof, that memories change over time. The memories we have as a child, are just memories, and can only be examined and studied as such. Revisiting a place may provide answers, but those memories can never be re-experienced in the same way. In context of my project here, the issue was simply physical - I wasn't a boy anymore, I was an adult. I'll never be able to re-experience those huge hallways or those towering windows again.

What are you working on now?

I always aim for my work to be very personal and as emotive as possible. My You and I project concentrated on previous experiences of the world. I'm now looking at my current experiences of the present rather than the past. I'm discovering I tend to fly between extremes, I either hate the world, or I love the world! My research is heavily visual, and can be seen through my Instagram account. Recently, my interest has been examining anger, frustration and anxiety. I'm very interested in the combination of image and text, in the context of anger and frustration. I'm experimenting with free writing, writing the first thing that comes to mind when I look at a particular image. Again, serving as a way to question where such anger, frustration, and anxiety comes from, ultimately serving as a form of visual and written therapy.
@danny_day_photography on Instagram.
Danny Day Photography on Facebook.

Zoe Amanda Jackson

Zoe Amanda Jackson is a London based photographer who recently graduated from Canterbury Christ Church University. Jackson has a keen interest in still life photography and exploring mental health issues within her practice, particularly social anxiety, a condition she has suffered from since a young age.

What was it that first attracted you to photography?

My first attraction to photography was a present I received from my grandparents for my 11th birthday, which was a basic point-and-shoot digital camera. Gradually with help and tips from my Grandad, I would go out with him on the weekends and take photographs of my local park. My interest in photography developed further when I took up photography during my GCSEs, as my life goal at that point in my life was to become a photographer because of the experience of creating these images with my Grandad.

What has your experience with social anxiety been like? Has photography helped you to manage the condition or does it help you to explore your own anxieties?

My experience with social anxiety was difficult when I was a young child. I had trouble trying to communicate, even with the closest people around me. In result, I became very angry and upset constantly. There would be various points in my life where I could not say what I wanted to because something in the back of my mind was telling me not to. Photography has definitely helped me to explore my own anxieties. For my projects, talking to other people with anxiety and documenting how they feel, has let me to talk about my mental health a lot more, especially more openly to my family.

How did Disquiet come about?

Disquiet came about through my interest in exploring personal subjects to myself as I explored family issues in previous photography projects. The subject of mental health is something that I am passionate about exploring and understanding more. I felt the need for more people to know that it is okay to talk about your mental health, regardless of your gender, age or background as I did not talk about these issues growing up in my childhood.

Notepad and phone


How did you go about interviewing young people about their anxiety? Was it difficult finding people to be open about their experiences with you?

Before I went to university, I belonged to a support group for people with anxieties based in London. I decided to interview people from the group as I found that they was more likely to open up freely to a person who they knew and had a bond with as we went through the same support together. The people’s names have remained anonymous as requested by themselves, through fear of being judged. Through the still life images I have created, I have allowed them to have this powerful voice to remind people how important it is to talk and think about your own mental health as statistics show, that 1 in 4 of people experience a mental health condition a year.

What is it that you enjoy about still life photography?

I love how through still life photography I can have full control over all aspects of the photoshoot. Especially when photographing in the studio, as the lighting, composition and technical aspects can be carefully adjusted by me to get my images as perfect as they can possibly be. Dare I say, objects are definitely easier to position and compose the way you want them to, than people.

What is your process like — from your initial idea through to shooting and editing a concept?

It takes me quite a long time to think through my initial idea as I try to research thoroughly into the different directions and paths that I can go with my project idea. After I have my idea together, shooting starts straight away with test shoots to see what’s working best for me. To edit down my concept, I tried to get as many people as possible to look at my work as I always want to continue improving my photographs to see if I am going in the right direction and maybe find out things from others that I did not see myself.



There’s a really strong graphical/advertising quality to your work — yet on closer inspection you begin to see details which highlight the anxiety. In Pencils you see the chew marks and in House of Cards its the solitary missing card, which makes me think of the split second of anticipation of something going awfully wrong. When viewers look at your work what it is that you hope they'll take away from it?

I hope when viewers look at my work that they are enticed in by the bold, cold colours portrayed in my photographs. On closer inspection of the photographs as you said, small details begin to appear, as I want the viewer to take away the feeling of ‘everything isn’t always as it seems’. Referring back to the subject of mental health, these two things relate well together as people might seem to be coping on the outside but you never know what’s going on in someone’s mind.


What are you working on now?

I have just graduated from university so I am a bit slow with project making at the moment but I hope to work on a project soon focusing solely on my own mental health with my family responses but I am not sure what kind of direction that is going to go in at the moment. I hope to use still life again in my next project to see how I can develop my still life/studio skills.
@zoe_amanda96 on Instagram.

Patrycja Marciniak

Patrycja Marciniak is a photographer and graphic designer based in Warsaw, Poland. Patrycja describes photography as a way to communicate emotions and wants her viewers not to just see her images, but to feel them. She bases the majority of her photographs on personal experiences, feelings, emotions, and fantasies.


Photography is my rabbit hole - a way to escape from plain reality into the world of dreams and nightmares. I consider visual arts a form of storytelling and attempt to apply this theory to my photos - each of them an illustration to an untold story, story that can be both dreamy and uncanny. One of my main inspirations are fairy tales and folk tales - often hiding cruel and disturbing elements under the coat of sugar. However, my main goal is not to reproduce the stories themselves, rather to reconstruct them and ask questions about the feelings they invoke.


You're a graphic designer by day, but what led you to photography and is there any interplay in your work between design and photography?

I've always enjoyed taking photos, but it was my university which helped to transform it into a passion. I've been studying graphic design. Most of our classes were computer ones, but some included traditional art, like painting, drawing, or photography. I've discovered that photography is a medium which helps me communicate my ideas most freely.

Normally, there's not much similarity between my work and my hobby (I guess not many clients would be happy to see gloomy, dark logotypes and posters), but happily most visual arts share the same set of rules, therefore I'm able to use everything I've learned about colors and composition both in graphic design and in photography.

Patrycja Marciniak

You tend to work in a series. How do these conceptual ideas come to you and what are the stages of execution?

It's very hard for me to tell where do ideas come from; sometimes I get inspirations from art, music, poems, fairytales or stories, but mostly I just follow the stream of thoughts and associations until I say to myself, "hey, that would make a great photo". Many ideas came to me when I was trying to explain my feelings, especially the ones caused by mental illness, to others; since it's very hard to express them in simple words, I started using metaphors and comparisons, many of which turned out to be a great base for creating photos.

Patrycja Marciniak

Patrycja Marciniak

Your work is formed from an intensely personal place, including your experiences with medication for depression and your diagnosis with dermatillomania. I’m curious about how it feels to make such personal work? Is there a therapeutic process?

It feels really good to be able to transform negative feelings into something of artistic value. The most therapeutic stage, however, is not creating - for me it's getting feedback, especially from people facing similar problems. It's very reassuring to feel supported and understood, and to show the support and understanding to others. I feel very pleased when I hear that people identify with my art - maybe it will give them the sense of comfort and feeling that they're not alone.

What it is like to share works which say a lot about your experiences and difficulties?

To be honest, I've always been very nervous to share such photos. Only my closest friends and family know about my difficulties. Since there's a strong stigma concerning mental health in our society, I was afraid I might get negative reactions from more distant friends. However, none such thing has happened so far; I hope that my stress will fade away eventually.

I think that speaking about mental health is very important, since there's such a negativity, lack of understanding, and so many myths concerning mental illnesses. I hope that I can change at least some minds and raise awareness - every big change starts with a small step.

Patrycja Marciniak

Patrycja Marciniak

Patrycja Marciniak

Patrycja Marciniak

Patrycja Marciniak

Has creating works about your mental health experiences helped you to connect with friends and family to help them understand your difficulties?

Fortunately most of my closest ones showed a lot of understanding since the beginning of my illness. I wasn't able to create art when my depression started - most of the time I was too weak and sad to even crawl out of bed. Creating art sure helped them understand my feelings more, but I think it had more impact on more distant friends who knew little about my problems and feelings.

What are you working on now?

I'm constantly trying to develop my skills in photography by creating art, and I'm planning to make more series concerning mental health. I do have some ideas that still need execution, and I'll likely come up with several new ones.

Nicolette Clara Iles

Nicolette Clara Iles is a photographer and writer based in London. She uses her experiences of borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder to influence her surrealistic photography. Her photography is "inspired by the surreal and turning the real into the surreal, along with early photographic inspirations (such as Julia Margaret Cameron, Pictorialism etc)." She uses colour and form to illustrate feelings and tell a story in image-form.

What is your background in photography? How did you get into it and how would you describe your work?

I always loved taking pictures but I first got into photography during and after a 6-month stay in a psychiatric ward as a teenager. I snuck a disposable camera into the building and took film pictures of my surroundings etc. When I left, I started doing self-portraits on a little pocket digital camera then got a cheap SLR soon after. It was then I started doing portraits and more artistic ‘work’ with my photography. At 16, I began doing test shoots with agency models and friends etc. I would describe my work as surreal and based in colour with emotion mostly.

How do your own experiences with mental health (you mention your BPD diagnosis) manifest in your work?

Well I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder first, then BPD so technically it’s a co-morbid diagnosis that I deal with. I never used to see that it manifested within my work until I was told that my photographs were very ‘emotional’, then I realised that indeed how I feel corresponds with how images turn out, and even the ideas behind them, too. I recently did a shoot that was a gentle nudge towards my symptoms, with scissors to represent ‘cutting off’ and I think my common usage of hands within my work shows a lot of personal things. I also created a ‘demon’ character who was supposed to be the version of myself I fight with.

Nicolette Clara Iles

Nicolette Clara Iles

How important is process to you? What is it like to create the work for you?

Process, especially recently, is quite important to me. If I feel a certain way, it almost always shows in the images. I find the build-up to creating an image exciting but also exhausting, in the way that it takes up a lot of energy to be excited and the worry of getting it ‘right’. I like to have a calm atmosphere when I’m shooting for everyone involved, all the while pushing to get the shapes and forms the way I initially imagined them to show through.

Where does the value lie in your work — in the creating, or the final piece?

If I can say both, then yes both! Sometimes it feels as though, once a story or image has come into fruition, that it’s like ‘right, I can move on from that chapter now’ and sometimes it’s something that never ends and continues to be a theme within my work and life. I like seeing the final result and it being how I imagined, or even different in a better way, but the creation of that is part of it, too.

Nicolette Clara Iles

Nicolette Clara Iles

What do you hope viewers take from your work?

Feelings, I just want people to feel ‘something’ when they view my work. Whether that be disgust or love or even a relatable, familiar feeling, just something that takes away from the sometimes-dull aspects of life - colourful emotion, that’s how i’d put it perhaps.

What are you working on now?

I currently would like to venture into more self-portraiture and also creating characters from other people, based on these real and unreal selves - a series of these would be ideal. I also am hoping to work into doing art therapy for people, combining my experiences with both art and the mind to help others fulfil expressing via creation.

Zaklina Anderson

Zaklina Anderson is a photographer based in London. In her work No one could save me but you Anderson combines double exposures of both the figure and landscapes to explore cultural displacement and the memory of war.

What is your background in photography — how did you get into it and what are your main interests?

My grandmother sold a cow in order to buy a camera for my father. My mother was one of the first female photographers to have her own studio in Serbia. Later, my parents moved to Slovenia, and established themselves as leading printing experts.

I grew up surrounded by photography. I had decided early on that I wanted to be a photographer, and signed up for a Secondary School of Design and Photography at the age of 15. I fell in love with fashion photography, and I still remember seeing Richard Avedon’s photographs for Italian Vogue. As there was no way to continue my studies at home, I moved to Chicago to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree. I started out as a commercial photographer, but when I moved to Paris to get another diploma, I started photographing nudes, which led to the fine art exhibitions.

I came across your work No one could save me but you at FIX Photo Festival and was immediately drawn in to the work. Can you give a brief outline of the work and where its title came from?

This artistic work is inspired by the political events that ended up in dividing Yugoslavia and resulted in a horrific civil war. It deals with identity, belonging, memory and loss.

I photographed this series after a difficult time in my life, a challenging couple of years. I was looking for a new series to do, but struggled with getting started, so I set myself a goal of doing a triptych, which resulted in a proper series. The mood of the photographs reflects my state of mind at the time. But it also connects with the deeper issue of my history.

The title is from a song I had in my mind when I took a first photo that started the triptych, it was something about a dark and stormy mood that connected the project.

Zaklina Anderson

Zaklina Anderson

You write that the work "explores the displacement and memory of war, portraying a sense of loss and mourning for a space and time now past." I find a real sense of nostalgia and longing in the images that make me pine for a place I've never been to. Can I ask how the use of double exposures came about?

As I started to explore photographing landscapes after focusing on the body for so long, I didn’t quite know how to view my landscapes, which seemed very vast and empty, so I experimented with double exposures to be able to include a figure and be more comfortable with the image. Also, the image of landscape on its own didn’t produce the feeling I always look for, which is a sort of melancholy loneliness. I found that I could achieve that feeling and also create a story within the image by using more then one image, either by double exposure, or collage. I always kept my nudes very subdued, because I wanted them to appear as an afterthought.

Zaklina Anderson

Zaklina Anderson

Zaklina Anderson

When we think of grief we often think of the loss of a person. Can you describe the feelings felt in mourning for a cultural identity, and how does the absence of a country impact on a person’s identity?

It has a great impact on a person. One of the first questions we are often asked is “where are you from?”, and for me that question is impossible to answer. I was not aware of how many of us were actually affected by this collective wound, as I tend to call it, but generations of people became "orphans" because what was their homeland was erased from a map. What used to be one nation with shared values turned into hatred and distrust.

Slovenia used to be part of Yugoslavia, and just as I was coming of age, the system collapsed and the country divided into separate republics. This was traumatic for many because a lot of families were from different parts of the country and were now at war. It was hard watching my parents come to terms with their loss of this identity, as we are defined by the place we grew up in. Now that I'm a parent, I struggle to explain to my children my roots.

What is the significance of the landscapes and figures chosen?

There's a theory in photography that says every photographer always takes the same photograph, over and over again. It is the same here. I’m constantly looking for a certain feeling of empty space and particular light, and my contact sheets look almost exactly the same, spanning over decades!

It might be an innate need to get that one perfect shot that makes us go back to the same place and try to capture its essence.

Zaklina Anderson

Zaklina Anderson

Zaklina Anderson

The work from this series is quite different from those on your website which are primarily nudes. What was it that prompted you to begin working on this project?

This series is a result of a wonderful collaboration I've undertaken with Laura Noble, my mentor. We discussed techniques and artists, which made me look at my own work differently. More importantly, she raised the question of "why?". Why does photography matter to me and what is driving it?

What are you working on next?

My next project is trying to answer a simple but complex question, “Who are you?” I want to look at my family history more closely, because only with passing time have I realized how special my family was and is, and how I continue the family tradition that started more than 50 years ago. When I was growing up, the family stories and anecdotes, always revolving around photography, seemed so banal but now I realize just how special and forward-thinking both my parents were. I want to pay tribute to them and to my aunts and uncles and cousins who were and still are involved in photography.

Giacomo Fierro

Giacomo Fierro is an Italian photographer specialising in landscape and photo reportage. Through his projects he investigates the ever-changing relationship between man and landscape and the traces he leaves in it.

"Led by hope for tranquillity I move carrying with me a longing for innovation. The desire to explore the unknown now overcomes the desire to return, which fades with time. The instability of what the future will be does not worry me; the consequences, whatever they are, are part of the discovery that is to come. Research is made through movement, fighting the immobility and at times leaving uncertainties behind. Movement and change become a mental state so that all that counts is progression and departure from a condition of stagnation. Thoughts at nighttime are at their most spontaneous and the sky is their catalyst."

How did the theme of mental health become a key part of your practice?

Mental wellbeing unexpectedly became the focal point of my first works. Until the age of 18 I used to live in a place where I didn’t feel at ease and, only once I left, I realized I wanted to start rebuilding a bond with that place.

How did Symptoms come about?

Symptoms originated spontaneously, just like the whole “Ataraxia” project. In this work, nothing was premeditated and nothing was born with the intent of taking part in the series. All of the shots were put together afterwards as they had a common feel to them and the project started as a description of my life in that period.

Giacomo Fierro

Giacomo Fierro

Giacomo Fierro

What is it that attracts you to photographing at night?

Nighttime has always fascinated me, and in particular, photographically speaking, the possibility to capture a partial reality thanks to light (and its absence). The images were shot with flash or long exposures, technical expedients that helped reproduce my feelings in those moments. Another reason that led me to choose the dark is the fact that at night there are no people around that somehow may interfere, and so I can focus on the relationship I have with a certain place and make images that relate to those specific feelings.

Have you found creating this work therapeutic at all?

I can definitely say this work has been therapeutic for me, but this process is not over yet. Symptoms is part of a larger body of work whose aim is to describe the progressive phases of my journey towards a state of ataraxia. In the beginning I wasn’t aware of what was to come nor what I would encounter: it all surfaced in a very organic and spontaneous way and I can say that taking photos has turned out to be the best therapeutic instrument for my research.

Giacomo Fierro

Giacomo Fierro

Giacomo Fierro

What do you hope viewers will take from this work?

Photography has been very important to me in this period of my life: the resulting images were born from deep feelings that I hope will be accessible to the viewers. To those who will see them, I would like to suggest a reflection on life starting from my perspective. In particular with Symptoms I would like to stress how hard it can be to feel at home in a place that isn’t really home.

What are you working on now?

Right now, while I continue with my therapy, which is now in its third phase, I’m particularly interested in the theme of Creation from both personal and mythological points of view. I am working on two separate still life series on this theme. At the same time I work as a commercial photographer in Turin, Italy, my new home.