Change of Project Idea.

I came to a point in my project where I was really unhappy with the concept and where it was going. I was full of apprehension as to whether it would even work and about finding people to speak to. Even more so, I couldn’t visualise how the images I had already taken were going to fit my brief, it felt as if I would be forcing ideas and images together and I didn’t want them all to go to waste. It was also sticking out in my mind what Emma Critchley had brought to my attention of the importance of actually understanding how someone with Seasonal Affective Disorder would feel rather than trying to tell the story for them. I also learnt how my project was a little similar to someone else’s in the group and even though we were approaching it in different ways, I just wanted mine to be different, unique. Also, as I actually revisited my research into the disorder, I re-jogged my memory that Seasonal Affective Disorder is mainly caused through lack of sunlight and the images I had did not portray this. I was focusing more on the physical changes of the landscape and essence of time, rather than sunlight and darkness. I really was unhappy and considering this was such a massive, final project of my final year of university I wanted it to be something I was proud and passionate about.

With so many apprehensions, I considered how I could change my project slightly without going to far out of my depth with the amount of time I had left. I had to take into consideration how I could use the images, how could they be presented, how would my research support this and more. As I thought back to Phonar and telling my own story about suffering with anxiety, I contemplated how I could move this into a bigger scale project. As I stated even before the module even started, I have always loved the outdoors hence my decision to begin photographing seasons before it developed into being about SAD. Both photographing and being outdoors have been elements which have helped take my mind off my anxiety and helped me overcome it, almost like a therapy. Then I realised this is how I could incorporate it into my project by using my still life and landscape images to portray feelings of emotion related to anxiety. With my research from still life, it became evident the sort of messages that can be shared through composition and representation in the images and this was how I could use it to work in mine. It also meant that my research up until this point was still relevant to influencing my project. To enhance this, I also decided I wanted to incorporate some self-portraits, a medium I experimented with in Year 2 for Picbod. This will enhance the narrative and understanding for the viewer and I could consider the physical side of anxious behaviour to make these images.

In terms of presentation, I have always played it quite safe often working with simple prints mounted on foam board. With this being the final major project, I wanted to push myself a bit further and have final framed prints as well as a book. My idea of combining the still lives with self-portraits jogged my memory of the work by Jennifer Pattison. Looking back through my notes, Pattison’s series ‘In Sight of My Skin’ was a series of female naked portraits which were combined with a secondary narrative of landscapes. By putting the two together, Pattison intended to take a reflective moment for the viewer to ponder and question. These landscapes were an inward representation of what was going on for Jennifer and the model.



(Pattison 2015)

By pairing together a self portrait with a still life/landscape image, I will similarly be sharing ‘what is going on’ for myself in terms of the emotions I feel through my anxiety. I already have in mind a few still lives which could work, such as the menacing face from the inside of the pumpkin which represents the feeling of an inner demon. I also came across a quote from the book Counterparts – Form and Emotion in Photographers which supports my idea of pairing images. “When two photographs are set side by side, they are seen differently from when displayed singly, and what they have to tell us about each other can be told in visual language alone.” (Naef, W. and Morgan, J. 1982: 9). This kind of layout will definitely work within my book I will produce but I may not use the same approach for my final pieces to exhibit. As the book will contain more images, I intend to keep the exhibited piece quite ‘simple’ which will invite the viewer to read the image but then also draw them to the book to learn more. In terms of whether I will use a similar style of pairing the landscape and self portrait for the final pieces will be something I decide nearer the end once I have put them together.

Although it was a big risk to decide to change my topic especially quite far into the module, I was confident that I would be able to thoroughly research artists to help evolve my project, conduct appropriate photo shoots and produce my final pieces. I immediately felt more confident with what I was doing and being a personal project meant I could make it intimate and thorough. It also addressed my concerns of worrying about misrepresentation of Seasonal Affective Disorder sufferers as I can give my own, honest experience.

Naef, W. and Morgan, J. (1982). Counterparts. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Pattison, J. (2015) In Sight Of My Skin [online] available from <; [24 March 2015]


~ by victoriasimkissphotography on March 24, 2015.

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