I see the world around me in black and white.
My view is tinted and altered by “dark colored glasses” crafted from a lifelong battle with depression.
Joy and sadness are represented as moments of brilliantly beautiful light piercing the darkest shadows of my mind.
It is my heaviest burden, but also my greatest gift.
My first recollection of depression was around age 7 or 8, hearing that incessant voice in my head telling me I wasn’t worthy and never good enough. Throughout my adolescent and adult years it would wax and wane at varying degrees, but never completely let go of its grip. Then in 2013 my youngest brother died suddenly. No warning, no goodbyes. It was ugly and my life fell apart, my heart was crushed, all light was gone and the darkness took over. It threatened to drown me, pulling me into the deepest depths where I could no longer reach the surface. It almost stole my voice.
Photography has helped to save me. Getting lost in it heals me as I release my emotions and work them into each image. Every photo baring my soul to the world in a secret sort of black and white code. My sadness enveloped by the shadows of the image and the light creating a path to continual hope.
Depression not only makes me a better black and white photographer, it also makes me a better, more compassionate person. It shapes who I am and was carefully woven into the intricate strands of my DNA for a reason.
It causes me to feel more intensely and makes me want to see my subject for who they really are without the protective shield of color; to see instead the true, raw beauty of contrast and textures, as if I’m peeling away a false personality so that I might get to know the real subject. The good and the bad; beauty and ugliness. You must find peace with it all in order to be free.
My imagination and vision of the world will probably never be sparkly and colorful. It’s not filled with rainbows and vibrancy. It’s defined much by darkness and I’ve made peace with that. I’ve learned that you will seldom see anything spectacular about the light if you have never lived in the shadows. It is the shadows that shape the light and those moments of light are what life is worth living for.
As Walt Whitman wrote in “O Me! Oh Life!,”
…The question, O me! So sad, recurring- What good amid these, O me, O life? Answer: That you are here – that life exists and identity. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.
This is my verse . . .