The majority of my photographs are of landscapes and cityscapes. I love these photo's and I'll never stop taking them for as long as I'm able.
I always think that a great photo needs an emotional component to it, whether that emotion is happiness, sadness, love, hate or any one of the nearly infinite emotions the human brain is capable of conjuring up. When I take a long exposure of a seascape for example, I'm often trying to convey a feeling of love for the great outdoors, the tug of home sickness in that primitive part of our brains that still remembers the long-lost past when we were ocean dwelling creatures or simply evoking the joy in a beautiful sunrise.
However I rarely take deeply personal photos of myself. Images that show you how I'm feeling at that moment in time.
I suffer from two particular ailments: insomnia and agoraphobia, sometimes simultaneously. The insomnia is an almost constant thing, I rarely get more than 4 hours sleep at night – sometimes considerably less. In fact I've been known to stay awake for days on end. Before you stop reading and think I'm going to start bleating on about how hard it is to be an insomniac, let me put your mind at ease – I'm just telling you how it is for me to get to the point of this post. I do get tired, exhausted sometimes, but I'm used to it. I even use the time to learn new things, I find YouTube is an almost endless supply of interesting educational material.
My other condition is agoraphobia. This is a bit more of an issue to deal with as it strikes at random. I honestly never can tell if I can go outside until I try to open my front door. This presents some fairly significant problems at times as you can probably imagine – particularly for a landscape photographer like myself, and as human being that needs food to survive but with home deliveries and understanding friends it's pretty easily overcome.
Now, when the two conditions strike at the same time that's when it becomes a real issue for me. If I've been awake for a few days AND I can't go outside, well, that doesn't make for a happy Paul.
This brings me neatly back to point of this blog post – emotional content in my photographs. This is a self-portrait and whilst it looks like I'm trying my best to look like a moody, troubled and edgy photographer (actually at the time of taking the shot, the first two are correct) the photo is full of clues as to my emotional state at the time.
Notice the dark circles under my eyes? I hadn't slept for 3 days and was pretty much done in. I was an emotional wreck and had been crying my eyes out previously over something I can't even remember now. The skateboard in my hands wasn't just a prop, It's my primary form of transport and seeing as I was housebound at the time it symbolized my need to just..go...outside. The surfers against sewage t-shirt I was wearing was my way of remembering the ocean, that whilst only 15 minutes walk (or 5 minutes skate) away was temporarily out-of-bounds for me. The jeans I was wearing, well I just happened to be wearing them at the time, and I just like that hat.
Is this my best photograph? No, not by a long way. Is it the most “honest” photograph I've ever taken? Absolutely. The emotional content is obvious to me and people who know me the best but maybe not so much to people viewing it for the first time. Frankly, I didn't take this photo to impress anyone else. I didn't take it to enter any competitions, I took it to capture my emotional state as clearly and accurately as possible.
I hope you like it.