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

Tissue

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.

Brain

Calendar

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.

Pencils

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-a-jackson.com
@zoe_a_jackson
@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.

facebook.com/patrycjamarciniakart


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.

nicoletteclara.co.uk
@nicoletteclara


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.

zaklinaanderson.com


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.

giacomofierro.com


Leanne Surfleet

Leanne Surfleet is a UK based photographer dealing with themes of loneliness, nostalgia, anxiety & light through analogue photography. Leanne states that her photography has helped her to "overcome anxiety and fears over life & mortality, using the creative practice of photography as a calming mechanism, and a form of escapism."

How did you get your start in photography and what are your earliest memories of your first adventures into photography?

I started with a little digital camera that I got as a present off my Mum for my 18th birthday I think, I just started taking photos of anything and everything. I then started buying disposable cameras & playing around with film & was gifted a 35mm SLR. I explored lots of different film & processes. My earliest memories of photography adventures are when I was in my early 20s with my partner back then, we would drive around and find old abandoned & dilapidated buildings and I'd take photos. It wasn't until a few years later during college and mainly after that I started taking self-portraits.

You work primarily with analogue photography, a mixture of film and instant cameras. What is it that attracts you to working with analogue in a world that’s becoming increasingly digital?

I started off early with analogue and it just felt natural to me. I shot a little with a DSLR in college mainly because they encouraged us to do so and it was cheaper for me to produce work then, but I soon sold that to fund my love of film photography. I haven't even thought of going back to digital since, apart from taking snapshots on my iPhone. For me analogue is just much more honest and rewarding to shoot with. I've always had a soft spot for instant film too, I think if I had to choose one medium to work with from now on it would be Polaroid.

Leanne Surfleet

Leanne Surfleet

Leanne Surfleet

Self portraiture is such a huge part of your practice. I’m curious about what it feels like to make self portraits in a space where you are both the photographer and the subject. Are your images born out of an emotional need to express?

Yeah I think there's definitely an emotional need for me to express myself through self-portraiture. I've always said that I'm not great at communicating verbally so photography is the main way I express my feelings, emotions and anxieties. I think that I shoot the same whether I'm taking photographs of myself or of other people, it obviously just takes longer to shoot a roll of film of myself and I also have no idea what I'm going to look like in the frame, which is one of the exciting things for me working with film as well.

Leanne Surfleet

Leanne Surfleet

Leanne Surfleet

Can you walk us through how some of your images come about? Do you meticulously plan or do images develop spontaneously and organically?

I mostly just shoot when the thought pops into my mind, or if the light attracts me to a certain part of the room. I'll normally just grab whichever camera I feel like playing with in the moment and set up my tripod, find a space and composition and go from there. I rarely plan my photographs unless I have a specific project or idea to explore. I definitely believe in taking one photograph of a certain scene and if it's meant to be it will be, I can't be doing with deciding between two or five almost identical photographs. In this image (below) I was on holiday with my Mum. We went to Spain after I graduated university. It was a really lovely relaxing holiday and a great time for me to take photographs. I think my Mum was having a nap in the afternoon so I just hung around the hotel room and played with my Polaroid SX-70. I hadn't taken a tripod with me so I used piles of books or shelves as a surface for my camera. The afternoon light was so inviting and fell softly through bright white sheet curtains, I placed the chair in the middle of the window, put the self-timer on and just slumped into the chair and it turned out to be one of my favourite photographs I'd ever taken.

Leanne Surfleet

In Hospital Diary you write about coming to terms with the experience of being diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at the age of 15. When did you start to document the hospital visits and what does photography bring to the experience of being in hospital? Has photography helped you to explore and understand the condition?

I think I started to document my visits around 2010, so when I was maybe 22 or 23. My hospital appointments are very long and drawn out and they used to be held in a small clinic outbuilding which was getting very tired and old. I'd be shuffled off into a room separated from my sister (who also has CF) so that we wouldn't cross infect each other or any other patients and then sometimes left for hours in this small room, with a specialist or dietician or nurse popping in to do their rounds every now and then. You were lucky if you got a room with a window. All the time spent in there in the silence, alone, just inspired me to start taking photographs as I realised this was a huge part of my life undocumented. I don't think it helped me explore or understand my condition any more than I already knew but it helped me cope and to process what I was going through. I've been in hospitals all my life but bringing a camera into one is challenging as well as very interesting, you find a lot of very intimate and moving scenes when you actually take notice of where you are. I created the project for a university brief so it was very scary to show all these very personal photographs to other students that didn't really know me at all, which then gave me the confidence to publish my story online.

Leanne Surfleet

Leanne Surfleet

Leanne Surfleet

Leanne Surfleet

In your artist statement you mention how photography has helped you to come to terms with anxiety and fears over your own mortality. Where do those anxieties come from and what kind of legacy do you hope your photography will leave behind when you're no longer here?

I think the majority of my anxieties stem from my health, although I am generally very well and keep healthy when I was younger and a only a few years after being diagnosed with CF I experienced a lot of anxiety. I used to think very negatively and think that if I had CF without knowing all my life what else could I have without knowing? I ended up experiencing something called SVT too which is pretty much just palpitations and the feeling of a skipped heartbeat, I just couldnt get over it for years and am still on medication for it although it is so much better controlled after realising it was a vicious circle with anxiety. So it basically started from there and snowballed into panic attacks and general anxiety, I never wanted to be far from home either incase something happened to me which is where a lot of my self-portraits at home came from. I feel safe at home and taking photographs at home was/is such a calming experience for me. I often receive comments from people saying that they relate to my photographs and it has helped them to come to terms with their own different types of anxiety or loneliness, so as long as my photographs are still around to do that for people that makes me happy. I take such comfort in the work of Francesca Woodman who died young and before she was really discovered as a photographer and knowing that her work is now seen and loved by millions.

What strikes me about your work is that you to take your viewer to another place, an internal world of curiosity that lends itself to daydreams and interiority. I get the sense that whilst you're making the work you are working through thoughts and moments in your mind. Is there something that you hope viewers take from your work, or is the process of making images more important than the viewer's experience?

You sensed right, I am usually working through ideas and thoughts in my mind as I'm shooting self-portraits. I find it quite difficult to explain what I'm thinking or feeling when I'm taking photographs. I've definitely been through stages where I've thought about the viewer as I'm making work but that can alter things so I stopped doing that. I do care what my audience think and feel after I've finished and published my work and it means a lot to me the encouragement and support that I receive, but the process of making the work has to be seperated from that. I hope that viewers take my work for what it is, honest and emotional.

Leanne Surfleet

Leanne Surfleet

Leanne Surfleet

What are you working on now, and what would you like to work on in the future?

At the minute I'm working on a monthly project with 11 other female instant photographers called The 12:12 Project, we all submitted themes for each month and we have to produce one instant photograph exploring the chosen theme. It's really encouraging and motivating to have something to work towards each month and to see what everyone else produces to the same theme. As well as this I'm trying to continue a series I started on a sleep anxiety I had been experiencing, its just finding the time and motivation to do it. I'd like to work more on portraits of others in the future, I will always take self-portraits and explore that, but I really do enjoy looking through my lens and seeing whats in front of me and being able to press the shutter and get excited about being able to move around more and think quickly.

leannesurfleet.co.uk
@leannesurfleet
@leannesurfleet on Instagram
Leanne Surfleet Photography on Facebook


Morgan Cable

Morgan Cable is a photographer currently studying Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the Swansea College of Art. In his work Isolation Cable attempts to convey his experiences of anxiety and his feelings of being alone.

How did you get into photography?

I got into photography during my first year of sixth form taking it as one of my A Level subjects after my history lessons had shown me some of the earliest photojournalists such as Robert Capa, Eddie Adams and Don McCullin, their stories of adventure and the lengths they would go to in order to capture a photograph was awe inspiring. I got to grips with photography during my A Levels and then applied to the Swansea College of Art to study Photojournalism and Documentary Photography.

What is it that attracted you to explore mental health in your work?

I wouldn’t say I was necessarily attracted to working on the topic of mental health but after two young men I knew growing up committed suicide due to the effects of mental illness and that I was also going through hard times on my own, I felt that it was time to do something about it. Since then I have been creating work in an attempt to get people talking about mental health as I feel the more talking that goes on, the better we will soon be equipped to help deal with the problems.

Morgan Cable

Morgan Cable

What has it been like making work about your anxiety? Has it been cathartic at all?

At times it has been difficult trying to create work on my anxieties as for a number of years I had been subduing a large amount of my emotions so to begin with it was hard to find out my anxieties meant to me, i.e. how they can affect me on a day to day basis, how easy are they to deal with. Once I had started opening up to people, I began to really understand what I was going through and my working process from then on has been much more organised and patient and made it a much more stress-free experience.

Can you describe what making photographs about anxiety means to you?

It's currently one of the major driving factors behind my work. After struggling to gain any opportunity to work with organisations and charities set up to help those suffering from mental illness, my self reflective work allowed me to still begin my own process of helping people and in many ways had more of a powerful effect in my opinion.

What is the significance of the room in your photographs?

The bedroom represents the concept of insecurity. Although the bedroom is seen as a place of rest, a safe sanctum within the home, a secure zone. The fact it is a secure place means it is very easy for a person to get trapped in the zone, refusing to leave only causing more anxieties when the person finally does leave. I have attempted to represent the darkness and suffocating feelings I have experienced.

Morgan Cable

What do you get inspired by? Are there any particular photographers whose work you admire?

As I mentioned before the work of Eddie Adams and Don McCullin has always been a source of inspiration for my work, their grit and determination to capture images had a massive effect of both history and the future.

Morgan Cable

What do you hope viewers will take from your work?

Overall I hope to encourage people to talk about their emotions and to help others talk about theirs. In the future I hope through working with organisations, viewers will be able to take the links and the knowledge they need to be okay.

What are you working on next?

I am currently looking for external contacts to work with during my 3rd year of university to create a project, which will be exhibited in London next year.

morgancablephotojournalism.com


Olivia Gerard

Olivia Gerard is a photographer currently studying for a BA in Photography and Visual Communications at Birmingham City University. In Swimming in Darkness Gerard eludes to the crippling nature of depression, hoping to highlight the growing difficulties in mental health that men face today.

What was it that first attracted you to photography?

I suppose I’m going to give a cliche answer and say it was more of photography that found me. I’ve always struggled with finding words to express how I feel- but after picking up my dads camera at the age of 14 I was able to shoot how I felt on that day. I like the fact that no matter how you are feeling, you’re able to express your emotions through images.

Olivia Gerrard

There are so many cliché images that attempt to represent depression (for example the ‘headclutcher’). What were your thoughts when you first began to try to photograph the experience of depression?

Although the ‘headclutcher’ is deemed as cliche- its because it’s a true representation thats felt when experiencing a breakdown, often a result of serve mental health illnesses. During a breakdown in which many emotions come flooding in often feeling uncontrollable, grasping the head is an attempt to free yourself from the diminishing thoughts. If something (anything in fact) is cliche, its like that because people have experienced that feeling.

When I first began to photograph depression, about two years ago, it was due to personal experience. I found expressing myself in the form of photography medicinal. It helped me to see the light in situations and express my emotions in a different form, it was also a help to my parents who were able to visualise how I was feeling through the images I created.

My first images were mainly surrealistic portraits, in similar style to my inspiration of Christian Sampson, but I soon got into a more documentary style. Although I enjoyed the freedom of doing surrealistic portraits, as mental health being invisible, I feel as though showing mental health in its true ugly forms gives the viewer more of a sense of the everyday exhaustion of what fighting with your own mind is like, and how it takes over every inch of your body.

Olivia Gerrard

Olivia Gerrardhow just how much mental health can take over your life- most of us have showers multiple times a week without a second thought. Yet this might be the biggest achievement for someone living with a mental health illness that they have done in a week, and something they ought to be proud of too.

What was it like to photograph your subject? How did they feel about what you were trying to achieve?

My subject is someone very close to me, meaning the feelings he was experiencing at the time were natural everyday feelings in which I was involved in- however just with a camera at the ready.
In both our opinions we feel that mental health is looked more down on in men in todays society, with phrases like ‘man up’ being used in our daily vocabulary. Therefore he was happy to be my subject matter, in order to raise awareness for these particular issues which are so constant in our everyday life.

Olivia Gerrard

Olivia Gerrard

What do you hope your viewers take from the work?

I hope viewers will be able to see the everyday struggles living with mental health can cause if it is something they haven’t experienced, and if it is something they’ve experiencing I hope they can relate to my images to know they are not alone.

Olivia Gerrard

Olivia Gerrard

Do you think you’ll continue to explore mental health in your practice?

Mental health is so apparent in todays society, for people who haven't experienced mental health (or seen someone close to them experience it) it is a hard concept to grasp, due to the invisibility of the illness. I feel as though it is important for me to continue to photograph mental health to change the way in which people visualise mental health, even if it only changes one persons outlook - I have reached my goal.

What are you working on now?

I'm still currently adding onto this particular project, but also photographing anything else that inspires me.

livigeephotography.com


Matthew Lees

Matthew Lees is a photographer originally from Manchester and now living in Carlisle, Cumbria. He mixes both digital and analogue photography but predominantly shoots in 35mm. Lees is a BA Photography graduate from Cumbria University, 2016. In Therapy. 2 Lees explores the conflict of living with anxiety. The project "acts as self help therapy for myself as I try to heal without the aid of prescribed drugs, as I am in constant conflict with what my head is thinking and what my heart wants."

How did you get into photography?

I first got into photography around the age of 15/16 as it was an opportunity for myself to be alone and leave the house to go out and explore. I first took a course when I went to college and completed an A Level over 2 years. This course and the tutors were a lifeline for me at the time as I was going through severe hardship where I was left homeless and dropped into deep depression. I was not aware at the time just how photography was helping me. In fact I have only just recently became aware of this within the past year when writing my dissertation on the therapeutic use of photography.

Therapy. 2

How did this project come about?

Each project that I carry out helps me with recovery and acts as a self help therapy. I have carried out another 2 parts to this on-going series and I plan to carry it on for a good while longer. The projects first started when in the last year of my degree course at the University of Cumbria I was affected by the severe floods of storm Desmond in December 2015. The flood water reached up the stairs and completely destroyed the ground floor. I was left homeless as I was low priority to the council on rehousing. This set me in a bout of severe depression and anxiety that I hadn’t experienced since my early teenage years.

I lost all of my work ready to be submitted to university and did not receive an extension so failed the first semester, this again adding to my stress and anxiety. I did not attend university for around 2 months after getting rehoused living in a damp house full of mould but this was the only accommodation available.

I finally began photographing but within the house as i still didn’t feel able to face the world. This project turned out to be the first of many exploring how I feel about my mental health and photography.

The second project which you have seen came about with me trying to show people that mental health disorders can effect anybody and everybody and wanted my friends to know this, which was a big step for me, I had spoken to friends in the past about this but having my first project used for my final exhibition and then picked to appear in 2 further exhibitions gave me a massive confidence boost and gave me the ability to carry on in this field. The series of selfies I chose to do because I dislike myself and my appearance so it was to challenge myself to show myself to the world in this light. I chose to then double expose these images with places around me because this is where I feel safe and it is places recognisable to the people around me and to people that know Carlisle therefore showing that mental health does affect people close to them.

Therapy. 2

Therapy. 2

What are you working on now?

I am currently working with Carlisle Mind, a mental health charity. working to raise awareness of the charity and of course mental health. I am photographing the work they carry out and the services they offer to try and make them more approachable so people like myself can feel like they can talk more.

Therapy. 2

Therapy. 2

Therapy. 2

mattlees.wixsite.com/photography


Alicia-Rea Poole

Alicia-Rea Poole is a photographer from London, UK. Her project, For J, was created for her mother who struggled with the photographer's battles with mental health.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: where are you from, how long have you been photographing and what got you into photography?

I was born in North London, Enfield in 1994, and grew up in Enfield until the age of 10, and then moved to Cheshunt in Hertfordshire. I first began photographing properly around the age of 14/15, during secondary school, when I also received my own camera for a birthday present. I had a friend during secondary school who loved cameras, and he used to let me play around on his Nikon at the time - this made me fall in love with cameras and also made me become incredibly more interested in the medium!

I studied the first year of my BFA Photography degree at The New York Film Academy based in Los Angeles, California. I then transferred to Falmouth University in Cornwall, to study the second and third year, where I am currently now almost finished.

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

The theme of mental health within my practice came around halfway through college, when I was around 17; I was suffering with a recent diagnosis of depression and wanted to try and portray that within my work. It felt difficult to do, purely because the work I was creating felt so different to that being created by other photographers in my class; but I continued, as I felt it helped myself cope. I felt as though if I could create work that meant something to me, hopefully it would mean something to somebody else who had suffered with mental health issues or know somebody who has.

How did For J come about?

For J came about when I was beginning my third year of study at Falmouth University. I had felt my mental health begin to decline and visited the doctors to find I was re-diagnosed with depression. It was a definite shock, even though I had felt it creeping up on me, as I never thought I would be having to experience those same struggles as I did previously. During my first diagnosis of depression, my family was incredibly supportive, but it hurt me to see that my mother couldn't understand the difficulties of what I was going through - and I couldn’t imagine how that must have felt for her to see her daughter struggling as much as I was. Therefore, once I was re-diagnosed, I decided that my first semester project would be based on mental health and depression, and that I would be creating this for my mother. I wanted to create images that showed my mother that everything I was feeling - I wanted the images to represent me in a way I couldn’t explain to her.

How important has it been to place yourself within the frame in this work?

I found it was very important to place myself within this body of work. I had never, before now, taken on any self-portraiture projects, but for this I found it rather crucial. If I was to create a project for my mother, to try to aid her understanding in my depression, it seemed obvious that I had to represent myself by placing myself into the work. Not only did I feel this would help my mother connect to the work, but I felt it may help others. They may see themselves represented in some of the photographs I took. Whenever I look at some of the photographs, they do upset me - purely because I can't see myself looking back. I think that's what I mainly struggled with; losing myself within my depression. I could know myself one moment and not know myself the next. This is another reason I felt it imperative to document myself throughout this project.

Has creating this project helped improve the relationship with your mother?

I would say that it has. Not only was she able to see how I saw myself, but I also think it could be a comfort for her. With not being at home, and being away from my mother, I think it may have helped her to see that I was showing her how I was coping, within the images. It’s been tough, as relationships always are with mental health disorders, but I really do hope the photographs represent her daughter for her, in a way that’s honest and beautiful.

Have you found creating this work therapeutic at all?

I definitely found creating this work therapeutic. Having a relationship with the camera where I could be completely open and cry, or laugh, meant a lot for me. I found it difficult, and as if I was burdening people when I would talk to them about what I was going through; so having the never-ending possibilities of my camera and photographs, to take my mind off of the loneliness I felt, definitely helped me. I say I felt lonely, not because I didn’t have the support of the people around me, but because I felt I couldn’t talk openly about what I was going through - and showing these images to them helped open up that conversation on another level than just words.

What do you hope viewers will take from this work?

I hope, if anything, that viewers will take a slight understanding that depression isn’t just moping around in your bedroom and feeling sad. It takes over your entire body and it is exhausting. I hope that viewers will relate to the work and feel the emotion it was created with. I also hope viewers will see the strength it took to make myself vulnerable enough to represent my own experience within mental health because of the stigmas attached to it. Mostly, I hope viewers will know that if they ever experience mental health issues, that they are not alone.

What are you working on now?

Right now, I am working on my final major project, which I am trying to balance between intimacy and connection. I’ve been scanning in a lot of old negatives which I inherited from my grandfather, and doing further self-portraiture. I’m still seeing where the project takes me!

aliciapoole.wixsite.com
@aliciapoole_
instagram.com/aliciapoolephotography