“What surrounds us is what is within us.”
― T.F. Hodge
When I was about 7 or 8 years old I used to do this thing where I would stand in the doorway of my bedroom, looking in whilst trying to use my 'New Eyes'. I was trying to pretend that I had never seen it before, that it was a brand new bedroom in a brand new house. A bit like reverse deja view. I wouldn't stare intently; I wouldn't study each object just almost go cross eyed trying to get that sense of newness and unease that comes with brand new surroundings. I was convinced, utterly convinced that when looking at things for the first time you see things differently, how they ACTUALLY are. And once you were accustomed to the place, once you had stamped your memories or emotions onto it, it never looked the same. I could never do it though. I could never make the known unknown. I would stand there, frustrated, with my uncombed hair until Mum would yell 'dinner time' and I would then instantly forget about my quest for finding that parallel universe and run down for my cheese on toast.
But I've never been able to shift from this idea. What if it is true? What if we drop fragments of our emotions wherever we walk? What if our own street is covered with our own desires, loneliness, happiness, optimism,agony and anxiety? If this is true, then the area where we live is as part of us. A large part of us.
The front stoop could be 70% optimism, 30% frustration depending on the how quickly you taught yourself to use your sister’s Yoyo. That corner, by the phone, just where the light comes through the curtains could be 45% agony, 55% loneliness as you remember that occasion you heard the bad news. The bus stop down the road is possibly 78% desire and 22% happiness, as that is where you saw him walk past everyday. As time passes these percentages change, and the emotions become layered, until the place is thick with yourself and your memories. The longer you stay the more the place changes almost beyond recognition. I like to think of homes and neighbourhoods as emotional landscapes that hold hundreds and thousands of thoughts and ideas.
This article published in Volume 4 | The Lond Way Home Magazine talks about my belief in Emotional Landscapes
As I move from one country to another, from India to Indonesia ,Malaysia and now Australia, I love that my thoughts are being laid on top of someone else’s thoughts and the two “authors” will never meet. However, unlike when I was a child, I've now stopped trying to use my 'New Eyes' as I know it's impossible and that dopamines, norepinephrines and phenyethylamines will always get to my brain first and I like that. I love how science plus love beats reality. So I've now changed my attack strategy to get into a parallel universe. My aim is to try and see the surroundings as other people do, as my subjects do. Their surroundings, layered with their emotions. I think the secret of great story telling within photography is to be able to capture a moment in time that incorporates everything about that person, from the drop down the side of the coffee cup to the textured wall beneath their child's fingertips. So for me, portrait photography is so much more than just people.
Its a big task, in fact complete daunting and as a photographer I don’t' think I've even begun to scratch the surface of 'emotional landscapes'. But, once in a while, I'll produce an image that gives me that same belief that I had when I was an 8 year old child. That I CAN see things differently and that a multiverse does exist.