Photo Project: in the moment | collection 1—Zine Available for Purchase

I’d like to share with you that “in the moment” collection 1 is now available for purchase.

This photo project has been very meaningful and helpful with my efforts to cope with my own intense, moment to moment mental health struggles. It is my hope that perhaps there can be something beneficial, encouraging or inspiring within the project for you as well.

For a limited time I am offering this zine at a discounted price. You can purchase your own copy here for $5 off through December 3, 2022. After that time the zine will only be available for the full price.

If you choose to order a copy of “in the moment,” I’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas and feelings about this project.

Photo Project: in the moment | collection 1 – Creative Coping

I have several ongoing photo projects in the works at various stages and due to my intense mental health struggles being extra challenging I naturally gravitated toward this new project—in the moment—as a way to try to help myself cope.

It was important and helpful for me to make photographs as a way to stay aware of my surroundings and appreciate the beauty around me. It became a big challenge for me to have my heavy DSLR nearby or to be able to pick it up. I considered using a film point and shoot camera I had, but knew I didn’t have the capacity or strength to develop the film at this time.

I wished that I could have a small, good quality digital camera with the capability to do in-camera film simulations that would be more manageable to keep with me and also offer a level of creativity and uniqueness without the added step of editing photos at my computer. Unfortunately this was not an option for me as I didn’t have the funds to purchase a camera.

This “in the moment” project was my compromise to creatively and resourcefully finding a solution to help myself cope with intense, moment to moment struggles when my circumstances prevent me from doing this the way I would prefer.

I came across the FIMO app that I could use to take pictures on my phone using film simulations. I used the free version which was limited to just a few film simulations.

Rather than focusing on what I didn’t have I tried to enjoy what I did have available and use that to the best of my ability. I viewed this like using a vintage Polaroid film camera with a digital aspect. The film simulations added an element of suspense, surprise, not being in control and embracing and finding beauty in the unpredictability. And since the images were digital I was able to see them when making the photos rather than waiting until the film was developed which added a level of enjoyment to this project which was helpful for me at that time.

I wasn’t making amazing, extremely high quality, fantastic images and I was working to stay aware of my surroundings in a meaningful way, surviving one more moment when survival seemed too challenging, paying attention to the light and shadows around me, learning a little more what it is to be present, alive, thankful, appreciative, and enjoy life. All these qualities made “in the moment” a very meaningful project for me.

Since I continued to take many pictures over time I decided to print these images in multiple collections. This first collection contains black & white images taken in August 2022. I’ve ordered my first test print of this zine and am currently waiting to receive it. Then I plan to make it available to others.

It is my hope that by sharing this project, the idea behind the project, and these images, perhaps it could provide a little inspiration, hope, or in some way be beneficial for others.

Photo Project: Clouds—Story

As I faced (and continue to face) very intense, life-long mental health struggles that can be very disabling, challenging and disturbing for me, I remember spending many evenings outside at home just watching and photographing the sky as a way to try to help myself stay alive and survive. Seeing, watching, taking note of, and eventually capturing the clouds I saw seemed to naturally become one of the many ways I coped with my own intense, heartbreaking and disturbing reality. I appreciated the beauty, the colors, the variety and uniqueness of what I saw in the clouds, and how the clouds seemed to tell a story—and sometimes I could relate to the story I saw in them.

Through multiple devastating and traumatic experiences, the Bible had been misused and God misrepresented as I was treated in unhealthy, harmful and destructive ways by others. This resulted in my time spent reading the Bible (something I’d faithfully done for multiple decades that—in the past—had been safe and uplifting) becoming an extremely overwhelming, very difficult encounter which caused me to engage in intense self-criticism, self-condemnation and self-harm. But I wouldn’t give up on God—deep down I trusted His faithfulness and goodness rather than the human harm I’d experienced (though this harm was extremely wrong, intensely painful and deeply devastating). I’m thankful God didn’t give up on me and continued to communicate His care for me, perfect love for me and His understanding through His creation by showing me stories in the clouds.

The clouds seemed to tell a story I could relate to—in a way I could visualize my own experiences in the formations, light, darkness and colors I saw. It was like being able to relate to the story I saw portrayed in the clouds was a way God showed me He sees me, the brutal truth of my devastating experiences, my understandable thoughts and behaviors due to my traumatic and harmful personal experiences and that He still cares for me when I feel abandoned, used and misunderstood by some people that I once trusted who were no longer trustworthy.

We all have a story. Perhaps you can relate to parts of my personal story. And it is my hope that somehow, sometime, in some way, maybe you can find some hope in your story.

CLOUDS zine – story

You can see more behind the scenes images and content about my CLOUDS project here.

Get your copy of CLOUDS at the link below

Photo Project: Clouds—Broken Heart

This cloud project is very personal to me. In a way, I feel it tells my own life story without words. To me, my story often feels unspeakable, as though there are no words to adequately express it. And what I see in these images can be very relatable to the experience of my own story—the pain, the layers of traumatic experiences, the struggles, the fear, the unknown, the chaos, the isolation, the tears, the intensity, the terror, the abandonment, the victory, the moments of peacefulness, the long, rewarding journey of healing, the unpredictability, the storms, the heartbreak, the ever-changing circumstances, the encouragement, the connection, the hope, the beauty, the promise, the reminder that it won’t last forever at this same intensity and so much more that I’m unable to express in words. Near the middle of the collection I placed an image that is very important and meaningful to me. From the moment I first saw this cloud formation it reminded me of a broken heart—my own broken heart. I was compelled to try to capture what I saw. This image and personal concept—my own broken heart along with the intense and deeply rewarding road of working to heal and recover—is what has inspired this photo project and my desire to print these images.

CLOUDS zine – broken heart

You can see more behind the scenes images and content about my CLOUDS project here.

Get your copy of CLOUDS at the link below

Photo Project: Clouds—Printed Zine Available for Order

It is challenging for me to believe I finally get to share this with you: my CLOUDS zine is now available for order!

In previous posts I’ve shared about the individual steps in the process that led me to the final print of this photo project. It took me approximately a year once I began the process of working to get this project into print due to the intense mental health struggles I face each moment of each day along with the challenges of learning how to go about arranging and printing my Clouds project.

At the beginning of August I completed the Clouds zine and was able to order a copy so that I could review it in printed form. When I completed the project, placed the order, received the Clouds zine in the mail and for an additional 2+ weeks I was facing such intense mental health struggles that I had no interest in my Clouds zine and no interest in sharing it with anyone which was the opposite of what my experience had been with this project up to this point. This was a devastating condition to find myself in—and not how I imagined I would feel when seeing my project come to life through print—when I’d worked so long, so hard, so enthusiastically on this project that had helped give me some peace, hope, joy, and a way to work at coping when survival seemed impossible. As I did what I could to work on my continued healing and recovery process I tried to remain patient and hopeful that perhaps an interest in my Clouds project would eventually begin to slowly return. Somehow, it seems as though perhaps my interest in my Clouds project may slowly be starting to improve so I wanted to take the step (which is requiring a big boost of courage, bravery, and some encouragement from my husband) of sharing my Clouds project with you.

CLOUDS is a personal photo project – a collection containing 134 pages of images of clouds I’ve photographed over the past 9 years. Seeing and capturing clouds with my camera naturally became one way I coped with severe, life-long mental health struggles. To me, the clouds told a story that I could often relate to and the act of capturing the clouds became an important therapeutic practice which provided lasting benefits that I can’t even fully explain with words. This photo project has been deeply meaningful for me and my survival when survival seemed impossible. It is my hope that perhaps there may be something of significance, inspiration or encouragement for you within this printed photo project.

Here are a few images of my Clouds project to show you just a little of what you will see inside the zine. You can preview my Clouds zine and order your own copy here.

I want to thank you for your interest you’ve shown, encouragement you’ve shared and support you’ve given throughout my process of working on this project. It means a lot to me and I truly appreciate your kindness. I hope that maybe you can take something helpful and meaningful from this Clouds project, just for yourself, to meet you where you are.

Photo Project: Clouds—My Zine Layout and Sequencing Process Using Prints

In previous posts about my CLOUDS zine I’ve shared how the project is coming together as I work through the entire zine creation process. I’ve recently finished my layout and sequencing process AND ordered my copy of what I hope will be the final version of this printed zine which includes 132 pages of images (this feels like a gigantic accomplishment for me!). I thought I’d share with you how I chose to carry out the layout and sequencing process. This isn’t the only way to go about this and I thought I’d share with anyone else who may have an interest in seeing one way to do this or for anyone who might like to see a little behind-the-scenes look at what has gone into printing this project.

Quite some time ago I spent an evening cutting plain white printer paper to 8”x8” which was the size I chose for my printed zine. I didn’t do anything fancy—I tend to be a fairly practical person. In order to hold the pages together I just used two holes of a three hole paper punch to punch two holes in each page. Then I used some brown string I had on hand to tie the pages together.

I sorted through my large stack of prints—I had previously used a Sharpie and labeled the back of each print with the file name for each image—and grouped images together that looked like they would complement one another on two page spreads. Then I used washi tape—so that it wouldn’t leave marks on the prints and would come off fairly easily if I needed to rearrange any images—to hold the prints in place on each page.

In the middle of my CLOUDS zine layout and sequencing process using prints and my handmade “book”

I chose to use Scribus—open source desktop publishing software—as I didn’t want to spend money to purchase additional software. When I moved to the computer so that I could put the images into the desktop publishing software I appreciated how simple it was for me. I just glanced at the back of each print so that I knew exactly what file was needed for each image which I found to be a very simple, enjoyable process.

In the middle of my CLOUDS zine layout and sequencing process using prints and my handmade “book”

As I shared before—this certainly isn’t the only way to handle the layout and sequencing process—this is the process that appealed to me. I really appreciated being able to work with prints rather than trying to do this all on a computer screen. It was refreshing to be able to hold the actual prints in my hands, study them for similarities that would work well together for two page spreads, and get to enjoy the physical process of taping each photo in its place. It was nice to be able to turn the pages of my makeshift zine so that I could get an idea how things might look as a series when the final version of the project is printed.

Thank you for taking the time to check out my layout and sequencing process for my CLOUDS zine. I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas about any process you’ve done that has worked well for you or any thoughts you may have on creating zines. And I’m looking forward to being able to share more with you when I receive my printed CLOUDS zine in the mail!

Photo Project: Clouds—Zine Test Print

In my previous post I mentioned that I’d reached an exciting milestone in my Clouds photo project: ordering my test print of a small portion of this project printed in zine form. This printing was just a small selection of some of my cloud images to check how photos would print and make sure I was doing things in a way that printed well. I still have more work to finish putting this project together before the final test print.

I was excited to receive my zine in the mail yesterday. This still feels like a huge accomplishment for me considering all the intense, disabling, moment to moment mental health struggles I face as well as other obstacles within this project. And it took some courage for me to open the package my zine was in—I was afraid that since this was my first time doing this, I’d done things wrong and had possibly made a mess of the printed zine.

Clouds zine test print – front cover

I was thankful I opened it up and took a look at it. It was so rewarding and refreshing to actually hold in my hands and look through my Clouds zine test print.

Clouds zine – interior pages

I was relieved that to me it seemed to have turned out reasonably well. There are a few small adjustments I may need to make and it was so fulfilling to see that—in my opinion—I was definitely on the right track with my ideas, layout, sizing and use of the desktop publishing software.

Clouds zine – interior pages, sunset ICM (intentional camera movement) motion blur image

Part of my excitement for this project is for the meaning and importance it has to me as I’ve captured images of clouds over the years as a way to appreciate nature and my surroundings and to cope. And it’s also my hope that somehow, maybe this printed project could be an inspiration, encouragement, possibly help provide a moment of peace, some mindful, restful moments or in some way be beneficial to those who see this zine.

Clouds zine – interior pages, thunderstorm with lightning

I was thrilled to see that, from my perspective, the front cover, spine and back cover layout seemed to work out alright. I had come up with the idea of trying to do a wraparound type of cloud image. This process took some careful consideration and work to get the layout to show what I had in mind. I had to divide the front and back cover into separate images and also figure out what portion of my image to use for the spine image so that it would all seamlessly blend together.

Clouds zine test print – front and back cover

While this does feel a bit vulnerable it’s also exciting for me to get to share a small part of this project with you. I’d love to hear your thoughts or ideas about this project—feel free to share with me in the comments.

Photo Project: Clouds—Celebrating a Milestone

As a way to cope with the intense, moment-to-moment mental health struggles I face as a result of surviving trauma, one thing I naturally began doing was noticing, focusing on and capturing the captivating clouds that I would see when out and about or while at home in our yard. I’ve spent years taking cloud photos and eventually realized I had built up quite the collection of cloud photos.

I found the clouds I saw and worked to capture to be so interesting. Seeing and taking note of what was visible in the sky helped me to cope through some very intense and difficult moments. I would study the details, the colors, the shapes, the darkness and the light and how they interacted with each other, and I often could notice that the clouds seemed to tell me a story.

Heart-shaped cloud – seen from my yard at sunset

Sometimes when I was out and about, overwhelmed by anxiety, as my husband was driving I would look up at the clouds and find something to focus on which had a calming effect for me and sometimes I would capture what I saw.

Sometimes when I didn’t know how to survive I would walk outside our home and look up, across the surrounding fields where the clouds would often draw my attention, giving me something to focus on in addition to the severe mental health struggles and effects of trauma I was battling. At sunset I would focus on the motion of the clouds and how they would change colors as the sun moved lower in the sky. Somehow, mindfully focusing on the clouds seemed to give me a little spark of hope, provided a tiny bit of peace and helped me survive many intense moments. And often I was so mesmerized by what I saw that I tried to take pictures of the clouds around me.

Clouds – seen from my yard at sunset

I didn’t set out with the intention of this being a photo project—it just seemed to naturally happen. After noticing this ongoing trend of capturing clouds I decided it would be nice to put the images into a sort of collection. And I’d been inspired by other photographers to not just leave digital images sitting on my hard drive, my website or my social media accounts. I noticed a strong desire to work toward putting into print what had turned into a photo project. I felt that a printed version of this project would have an element that couldn’t be achieved on a screen. I decided to work toward making a Clouds zine because I wanted this to be in print form but I also wanted it to be affordable. Though I would love to be able to, I know I don’t have the means to purchase expensive photo books and I didn’t want the cost to be a big barrier for anyone else who may want to have a copy.

Some of my cloud prints I used for the layout process of this project

There have been many different stages to this project which have taken me a lot of time over the past several months. This is an unfamiliar process for me. I knew I wanted to work with actual prints as much as possible. First, I had to go through over 2,000 photos and decide which images to potentially include in the final print of the project. Then I prepared the images for print as what we see on a screen is not quite what the image will look like in print due to the nature of screens being backlit. I was so excited to order and receive approximately 140 prints of images I was strongly considering including in the printed zine. I used the prints to help determine if I needed to make any edits to the images and for the layout and page sequencing process. It was so satisfying and fulfilling to get to see and hold the prints in my hands as I worked on this part of the process.

Some of my cloud prints I used for the layout process of this project

I faced many battles throughout this long process: the intense, debilitating daily struggles I face, finding time and energy to work on this project as I often needed to focus on my own survival and therapy process along with trying to care for myself and my family, trying to teach myself how to use desktop publishing software I’d never worked with before, and the difficulty of working through problems I had saving my zine in PDF format. And—like other experiences in my life—this project is showing me that I can do difficult and challenging things that can feel impossible. It has been a challenging, discouraging, enjoyable, rewarding and growing experience for me.

Some of my cloud prints I used for the layout process of this project

On Wednesday evening I reached a milestone in this project I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to achieve. I managed to get to the point in this project where I was able to order a test print of some of the Clouds images in zine format before eventually progressing with the full zine print. It felt like a huge accomplishment and a true victory to see my test print zine on the webpage of the printing company and to click the mouse to place the order. I considered this an accomplishment and victory for myself and hopefully for others as well with the hope it may be of benefit to others in some way. While I am doing this for myself I also have you in mind while working on this project.

In an effort to be kind and gentle with myself I wrote a little “Note to Self” for this occasion: You worked so hard to reach this milestone that seemed unattainable due to the many painful, debilitating, intense, devastating and overwhelming circumstances you constantly experience each moment. Maybe it’s important to acknowledge reaching this milestone and celebrate the fact that time after time you overcame battles that seemed too overpowering. This photo project has been a blessing to you and may it somehow be a gift of encouragement, hope, peace or some other benefit for others.

Cloud abstract – ICM (Intentional Camera Movement) image of sunset clouds taken from my home

Resting where you landed

Nikon FE, Nikon 35mm f/2

When you’ve been knocked to the ground by painful circumstances outside your control sometimes it’s necessary to rest where you landed in order to care for yourself.

Captured just as I found it.

The process of making this film photo, developing the film myself at home, scanning the negative with my DSLR and converting the negative to a positive is a challenging, sometimes overwhelming, somewhat unpredictable, very rewarding, learning, growing, healing, intriguing, satisfying and therapeutic process that helps me to learn not only about film photography but also myself and my healing process in a healthy way. I am thankful for this opportunity that I can’t really explain with words.

Nikon FE
Nikon 35mm f/2
Fuji Superia xtra 400
Image taken Fall 2020
Developed at home, Unicolor
Negative scanned with DSLR
Converted to positive with Negative Lab Pro

I decided to share some of the photos and writing I’ve shared over on my Flickr account. If you’re interested in seeing more of those images you can check them out here.

Gravel dust

Nikon D750, Sigma 35mm f/1.4

Off in the distance the ordinary clouds of dirt become a beautiful sight when highlighted by the golden light of the setting sun.

Another of many images I’ve taken from the passenger seat on a drive home from one of my neurofeedback appointments. I never know how these images will turn out as we’re driving down one of the highways or the interstate we travel. This process of making photos of my surroundings really is helpful and calming for me.

I decided to share some of the photos and writing I’ve shared over on my Flickr account. If you’re interested in seeing more of those images you can check them out here.