Last night I died three times.
I suffer the most appalling night terrors from time to time and these are very visceral and realistic to the point where it has knocked my confidence completely today. It’s tricky to deal with the trauma and it’s hard to find a sympathetic ear. After all, these are only dreams. But I can remember every graphic detail. I can draw maps of locations in my dreams and I could easily write a full script of everything which happens in them. I can describe what people were wearing, where they were positioned. I can tell you their mood and attitude and exactly how he pushed the blade through me, how the old lady strangled me, and the colour of the rocks which crushed me to death. The trauma I have felt is not something I can instantly shrug off. I remember them all. I will still remember these dreams tomorrow. These night terrors do not fade for me.
So how do I recover? How can I move on and not let the memories affect my day to day living? The answer has always been to take control through being pragmatic. If my mind is showing me one thing then I need to retrain it into a more positive outlook by making it concentrate on the something else; the real things that are in front of me. I need to focus my eyes on what is here and what is available to me rather than dwelling on something uncomfortable in my memories.
This is why I use a camera. Photography makes me focus on how beautiful the world can be. It teaches me to look closer at what is available in the real world and helps me to come to terms with any negative feelings. It helps me to deal with real problems as well as those in my dreams*. Photography to most is some sort of technical exercise in an attempt to record and create some sort of hyper-real ideal. This misnomer is so common that when I tell people I’m a photographer they assume I have thousands of pounds worth of camera and that I subscribe fully to the clean cut, soulless ideal that has become generic in popular culture. I am not that. I am not trying to change how you see the world. I am not taking pictures to make you wish you were in some sort of unachievable hyper-perfection. I am not selling you fake dreams and photoshopped lies.
Instead I am exploring the real world that already exists in front of us all and communicating what I feel about these things to you. I use the camera as a tool to ground myself in the real beauty that is available to everyone.
I am using photography as therapy.
*Don’t start me on dream theory and Jungian philosophy about reflection, wish-fulfillment, and fantaises etc. I’ve been there…studied that… essays… blah blah blah…