It's been a while since I've posted. Every time I sit down to write, it seems impossible to round up all of my thoughts cohesively. I am observing, learning, and experiencing so many things daily that it's hard to talk about just one thing. It's a shitty excuse, so here I am, forcing myself to write down some thoughts.
To be honest doing a project on your own family is harder than I thought it would be. Your family is the closest people to you, the most familiar, the most forgiving. But they are also people with whom you have deep, often very specific dynamics with. And it can be uncomfortable when that dynamic shifts in any way, but especially when it shifts from family members to a photographer-subject relationship. You must work just as hard, and if not harder to gain access to the nuances and vulnerabilities of the very people who you are closest to.
Though the creative juices are not always flowing for me at the moment, I have found it incredibly meaningful to just spend time with my family while having a curious mindset. There are so many things I have learned about my dad, my grandparents, and other family members that have given me a better idea of what their life is like beyond their relationship to me. The stories they tell me almost seem like ones of people I don't recognize. Stories full of hardship, rebellion, and history. Stories I didn't even know I craved and I, myself, am inevitably connected to. How strange it is that my life feels fuller after having heard them. I guess they help me realize the complexity of any individual's life, and see more grey in a world where people often espouse ideas in black and white. They help me forgive my parents for things I resented them for in childhood. I am beginning to see it isn't whether or not you will experience tragedy in life, but it's a matter of when. Although it's an unfortunate idea, the acceptance of it is actually freeing. It frees you from getting caught up in the reasons behind tragedy in which there is often not, and offers you a choice in how you want to face ugliness even when choice feels non-existent.
Photography for me is choosing to see life as precious and beautiful even when it isn't. It is an exercise in seeing beauty, but also in redefining beauty. When the day is gray and I've been in bed for most of the morning, not asleep but not awake, when I don't feel creativity or momentum or anticipation, when there is suffering or injustice that have no easy fix. I have the power to make pictures. Pictures that can become a story, a call-to-action, an escape, a document, a relic, evidence of time that is passing and changing, and reassurance that all is the way it's meant to be.