After creating three zines this became my next photo project to work toward printing. My zine titled Moving Forward is now available in print: you can check it out and order here.
The images in this collection didn’t even start out as a photo project. It began as an attempt at survival and trying to do what I could to move through some very intense, challenging moments. One summer evening I was having a very challenging time, intensely battling the long-term, ongoing mental health struggles I face each moment of each day. I felt like I couldn’t do anything and also felt like I couldn’t do nothing. Somehow I pushed myself to go outside at sunset. I was just going to try to walk around our yard and the road that cuts through the countryside and leads to our home but I saw the beautiful clouds which inspired me to get my camera. Then I just started walking down our gravel road in an effort to try to stay somewhat active and try to cope. I had the idea to experiment with ICM (intentional camera movement) by using a slow shutter speed to capture the motion as I was walking. This was fascinating to see so I repeated this several times—it helped a little to try to focus on this process and the results rather than only how bad I felt. With my camera facing either in front of me, behind me or to my left or right side I would push the shutter release as I was walking and keep the shutter open for several seconds as I was moving forward. I can’t really put it into words how this was helpful for me. Though the images are very abstract, to me they’re beautiful because they show that I was standing and moving forward even when it felt impossible and I had no idea how I would survive. After I used this method one evening I also naturally repeated the process a few other nights within the next couple weeks as a way to try to help myself cope and survive.
For me these images contain a lot of meaning. They are an abstract documentation that I engaged in the challenging work to stand and keep moving forward—both externally and internally—when this felt impossible because of the intense struggles I was experiencing at that moment. I tend to find some symbolism in these images. The blur and lack of clarity reminds me the path of growth and healing feels so unclear, foreign, unknown, even scary, overwhelming, very difficult and challenging. And though the journey doesn’t always seem completely visible, one thing I do know is God’s faithful presence and the kindness and care of the small group of very supportive people in my life is with me. That taking one tiny step at a time really is a big thing. It is often excruciatingly difficult and those tiny steps do add up—I’ve seen reassuring proof of this over time. And I still have many moments when I want to quit, that it all seems like too much for me. Sometimes I have to rest (though I find that for me, even rest can require work)—which itself is even a form of moving forward.
As I stand, take steps, hold my camera in my hands, see the sunset light and the road or yard in front of me, press and release the shutter, hear the click of the shutter opening, be mindful that the camera’s sensor is recording the light shining into it, hear the shutter close, feel surprised and inspired by the beautiful images that are captured and shown on the back of my camera and remember that though it seems insignificant this truly is a big victory for me to be moving forward. This all has a deep, helpful, nourishing, inspiring effect on me. It doesn’t magically erase the extreme difficulties and struggles and it does help me survive and move through them in a healthy way.
For me these images are a reminder that beauty can be found in the unknown if I am open to looking for it—sometimes even among the fear, anxiety, depression and terror I experience. And that moving forward can be lived out in many different ways—what is helpful or safe for someone else may not always have a positive impact for me. So through this process I try to keep in mind maybe it’s alright to give myself a little grace, patience and the time and awareness to notice the internal feedback I receive that can help provide these cues and insights.
It is my hope that perhaps there can be some level of hope, inspiration, peace or encouragement even for you among these images and this photo project.
You can view and order my zines at the links below.