Photo Project: Moving Forward—Zine Available for Order, Surviving and Coping while Healing from Trauma

Moving Forward zine in print

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.

ICM (intentional camera movement) image included in the Moving Forward zine

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.

ICM (intentional camera movement) image included in the Moving Forward zine

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.

ICM (intentional camera movement) image included in the Moving Forward zine

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.

ICM (intentional camera movement) image included in the Moving Forward zine

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.

ICM (intentional camera movement) image included in the Moving Forward zine

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.

Photo Project: in the moment | collection 2–Available for Order and The Personal Impact of this Photo Project

Several weeks ago I completed and printed my “in the moment | collection 2” zine. The zine is now available in print for you to order. You can get your copy here. And I’m offering this zine for $5 off for the first 5 days—through 1-20-2023.

This collection of images is in color—my first collection contained black and white photos. The film simulation I used for this collection was not something I normally would have chosen—it was a little bold, intense and flashy for me. Since I didn’t want to spend money on the FIMO app I was using on my phone for this project I embraced the constraints this led to and used this simulation because it came free with the app. This exercise in getting outside my comfort zone was a growing experience for me. I found it interesting how the app made variable, random decisions for me adding elements I had no control over—bright, saturated colors and simulated light leaks—that added an element of joy, surprise and cheer to the pictures I took which I found to sometimes be uplifting and encouraging.

I also tried to embrace my own limitations. Since I was facing the difficult intensity of my mental health struggles I didn’t have the energy, strength or clear thinking to take pictures with my digital or film cameras. So I kept in mind that I generally had my phone nearby, it was very lightweight compared to my cameras and was very simple to use with this app—basically just point and shoot. There was no film development, scanning or post processing involved with my simple phone photography process. So I was able to keep things very basic and focus on the act of seeing, capturing and coping.

I tried to refrain from criticizing myself for not using my “real cameras” that take better quality photos and keep in mind that I can still make images with my phone. During this time, rather than having quality be my main goal, the main goal was survival and taking the healthy steps that could help me press on through the intense difficulties I face.

From the perspective of my practice of therapeutic photography I would consider this collection of my “in the moment” photo project to be a success. It’s certainly not technically perfect and it was helpful in keeping myself in the present moment at times when this felt impossible and too painful. These are just a couple of the positive impacts I noticed so far with this project. I’m sure there are more that I haven’t noticed yet.

Perhaps part of what I shared here is relatable in some ways for you. If so, it is my hope that maybe there can be a little encouragement or some type of benefit for you within this photo project and all that went into it. I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas about any of the content I discussed here or how it may have impacted you—feel free to leave a comment below.

You can view and order my zines at the links below.

Photo Project: in the moment | collection 2 – Layout and Sequencing Process

After recently finishing my “in the moment | collection 1” zine, I was looking forward to compiling the images I’d already selected for collection 2 of this series. This was a project I found myself naturally drawn to and unintentionally creating while my mental health struggles were very intense. I used my phone—because the best camera is the one you have with you—to capture things that caught my attention. This was not something I forced myself to do and it was a therapeutic process for me. You can read more about the story behind this project here.

As I prepared both the first and second collections of “in the moment” photos for print in a zine I was inspired by some videos I’d seen on The Art of Photography YouTube channel. On this channel Ted recommended using a blank sketchbook and printed images and attaching prints to the pages of the sketchbook for photo assignments. I used this idea for my layout and sequencing process.

I adapted this idea to my needs. I used printed 4×6 photos and first started by selecting which photos I would use—not every image I printed made it into the zine. Then I put together the images that I thought would work well together for each 2 page spread. Once I came up with a rough idea of which images to pair together I used washi tape to attach the photos to each page of the sketchbook so I have a better idea how the images would look in the zine format.

At this point I did some changing and rearranging and found this helpful so that I could make decisions concerning what images to include in specific places and how they fit together with the surrounding photos. I’ve mentioned this before: I love working with printed images rather than only working with digital images on a screen. I understand this may not be appropriate for every person or project. For me, it’s a delightful feeling to be able to hold the images in my hand, physically move them to different areas so I can see what effect that may have on the layout of the zine, and I find it nice to see the printed photo without the backlighting of a screen. This is a therapeutic part of the process I’m thankful I get to experience.

These images are just a few pages of the blank sketchbook I used for this process. Just a few days ago I was able to finish the zine making process, upload the file to the print company and now I’m (not so patiently) waiting for my test print of “in the moment | collection 2” to arrive in the mail.

I’ve enjoyed creating this zine—though it hasn’t been easy for me to complete due to my intense struggles—and it is also my hope that perhaps there can be something beneficial, peaceful or enjoyable for you within this project as well. Thank you for taking the time to check out my project!

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.