Social media breaks during lockdown

Lockdown, a time when social media feels imperative to keep in touch with people outside of your household because lets face it, no matter how well you get along with the people you live with, its exhausting not being able to interact with other people. Its a time to call friends and family, play online games, Skype, whatever you do to keep in touch, which is currently my only use of the internet (other than writing this and watching copious amounts of Netflix). Twitter, Instagram and Facebook have been deleted for a few days now for the second time in 2 weeks because I could feel them causing my already high anxiety and depression to hit record levels. Why? It’s mostly down to loneliness. I haven’t spoken to anyone outside of my house in over a month (other than regular calls to my best friend and a Skype call with another friend, which was bizarre as we never video call). Its tough seeing everyone content with who they’re spending lockdown time with, not to say I want everyone to feel as isolated as myself, but its just tough to see and is a constant reminder that after 2 weeks of good luck and excitement prior to lockdown, Im now back to square one and feeling deflated, unmotivated and pessimistic about the future.

For anyone who doesn’t know, the weeks running up to lockdown, I finally got a photography job in a studio and was excited to finally feeling like I amounted to something and my degree was worth it. This was after around 9 months of working in a sector that I hated and was desperately trying to get out. Now I know the job will still be there for me when all this is over, but the end seems far off and being so close to pursuing something that I enjoy, just to have it taken away over night was a huge blow to my mental health. It also probably doesn’t help that the longer I’m waiting to start this job, the more I am doubting my ability to be able to do it well (even though I know I’m great at what I do, I wish my brain would stop being unkind). I then spent the first 3 weeks of lockdown battling to get paid by my current employers, which has just added to the exhaustion and bad mental state.

Anyway, that’s the background information on why my mental health is in absolute shambles, back to social media breaks. They’re not something I usually do, or at least not usually for extended amounts of time. My online presence is important to me, to show my work and make a name of myself, however my mental health needs to start coming first, especially in tough times. Usually my social media detox’s only consist of twitter and facebook because they can be the most draining. Theres an awful lot of information on there, its the place I come across the most transphobia, homophobia and harmful political views. Its also where I feel most inadequate and undervalued, so its a place I actively avoid if I’m feeling bad. Instagram however, is mostly harmless, but even that is taking its toll through lockdown. I am stuck in a rut, which is affecting my productivity and creativity, meaning I have nothing to share to make me feel as if I’m not complete garbage and to feel validated and loved for even 0.5 seconds (which I know, first world problems am I right?), so seeing everyone having the times of their lives, being productive and comparing myself to them is exhausting. A simple solution of course is to stop comparing myself to others, which is something I’m working on, but in order to do that, you have to take away the people you are comparing yourself to do.

I thought having no social media would mean I would be bored and sat staring at walls, which don’t get my wrong, I have been. But, I have also painted, started reading a book (the last book I read was too many years ago), relearning piano and learning not to put pressure on myself to always perform. I have also been watching more new movies that I otherwise wouldn’t have watched, since Im always exhausted, mentally and physically and so just rewatch the same stuff because I don’t need to pay attention. Its also been weirdly nice to not feel like I have to be on my phone all the time and responding to people as soon as they message me. It’s just nice to be able to breathe and take a break without feeling guilty. Of course I’m not saying, delete social media and feel better, nor am I saying that people shouldn’t be sharing the good times that they’re having right now, its your life, do what you want, but for me trying to eliminate everything making me sad has been a weird success.

Also, as of a yesterday, I have finally had a creative spark, which I otherwise don’t think I would’ve had if I was still wallowing in self pity and blankly scrolling through my phone (or maybe I would’ve, who knows!) but exciting post-lockdown stuff could be coming soon and I’m finally feeling positive.

Thanks for reading this little update, I hope everyones staying safe.

Alex

New year, fine art

I’ve been sat over my coffee for 30 minutes now (its cold but I’m drinking it anyway because Starbucks prices are enough to bankrupt me) and I can’t for the life in me think of how to start this without it being cliche, so here goes.

Its 2020, meaning New Years resolutions- I haven’t made one as such, more just decided to take control of my mental health and live with a “what happens, happens”mindset, which I fear could be dangerous, but I’ll see how long it lasts. The ending of 2019 was a difficult one for me. Everything I thought could go wrong in the last few months did. The one that was the last straw was my surgery being cancelled with no warning and me only finding out when I’d travelled 2 hours to get there with a bag full of post-surgery necessities. I say necessities, it was mostly candy and Doritos but after my last hospital stay, the food just doesn’t cut it, I’m a growing boy. So after a December of mental breakdowns, rash decisions and screaming into the void, I have decided that the rational thinking I did post-breakdown, is something I am going to lead with this new year. I can’t be dramatic this year- it solves absolutely nothing and just exhausts me.

With that in mind, I did something that at the beginning of 2019, despite being medicated for anxiety, would have seemed impossible. I went to a public place and took photos using balloons. What- the? I hear you asking. You read right though. Now, throughout my entire time doing photography, I have never taken photos in a public space whilst drawing attention to myself. Sure, I’ve taken photos of nature, but that’s different, everyone does that. The closest I got to drawing attention to myself was using my homemade camera because no one had any idea what I was holding and why I wasn’t using digital, which is fair enough I suppose, we live in a digital era, why on earth would you go old school.

Anyway, back to my anxiety-inducing photoshoot with balloons. I went to a public space, granted not suuuuper busy, but baby steps right we’re only a week into the new year, and took photos of a balloon in different locations with the aim to create triptychs of a somewhat spooky balloon (thank you IT) in various locations. Now, where it starts getting tricky is the weather- its winter, dark and windy- not overly helpful when trying to capture balloons. Its even more tricky when you go with three already full of helium and within the first couple of photos one of them pops. Then the ultimate challenge comes when you haven’t got 3 shots of one colour and it’s almost completely out of helium and will no longer float. However, unlike my previous 2019 mindset of basically throw a tantrum and completely quit trying, I persevered and managed to get 2 whole triptychs out of a 4 hour shoot. Not bad going. Usually this would distress me because how on EARTH do I only get that many, how is it not more? Am I not good enough? But that is old me speaking, it doesn’t matter the quantity, the outcome was perfect, even better than I had planned and I am damn well good enough, the elements were just trying their best to kick my ass.

Live and learn right? Next time I will hope for better weather (difficult in England) and I have now made this project one of my ongoing ones for 2020, you never know, maybe I’ll incorporate people at some point- although I do like the sinister vibe (thanks again IT) of a single lone balloon. I do wonder if there would be a way to have a singular balloon and it not look like a screen grab from a horror movie? Maybe I’ll know the answer but the end of the year.

final red

The above triptych is the spookiest (AGAIN, THANKS IT) and one I am proud of on so many levels. First is my perseverance of getting a rapidly deflating balloon look neat, but the second is one I feel I’m not “meant” to talk about, but I am all about transparency, is my use of photoshop. Anyone who knows me, knows that for the last 3 years at least, photoshop has been on my “do not use” list, other than adding watermarks, I don’t edit anything using it. However, whilst my balloons were failing, I knew I wanted each triptych to have a water feature in the middle panel and this was becoming more and more difficult and this series were the second I shot and water just wasn’t possible by the time I got to it, so I used a photo of a yellow ballon that I had shot earlier and completely changed the colour to red (cheating I know), but I mean thats what photo editing is for, right? I must admit, it felt amazing being able to completely change something too, this series is fine art, not documentary, so why shouldn’t I try new things and everyone else does it!

So, so far this year, I have battled anxiety to create one of possibly my favourite photo series and learnt new photoshop skills and we’re only 6 days in. Starting the year with a lot of positive thoughts.

Thanks for reading,

Alex

Life update 15/12/19

Its been a while. Honestly I forgot, I’ve been super focused on sending out my daily doodles (if you wanna receive them there’s still time, just sign up to my mailing list). Anyway, I thought on my first real day off in quite a while (working a day job alongside photography is a pain), I’d update yall on stuff thats going on.

My life really isn’t interesting so apologies already. As I said, I’m sending out daily positive doodles for the festive season as I know it can be difficult for people for many different reasons and it may be their only reason to smile that day. You can still sign up to receive them in the sidebar (or bottom of the page if you’re on mobile)

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one of the doodles sent.

Other than that, i’ve really only been working my ass off to be able to afford moving- its started going surprisingly well, so i’m ever so slightly concerned.

Another big bit of news is that on the 19th December, I am going to be getting surgery, so im out of action again this Christmas- its basically a new tradition. However, this means that after Wednesday, I won’t be sending anymore parcels for a couple of weeks, whilst I recover, unless I ever so nicely ask my mum or brother to mail them (who knows?). This also marks the beginning of a new photography project documenting my trans-ness. Probably the last very personal one I do as I’ll have nothing left to say about myself after this. I will continue my works about trans people, theres still a lot to fight for and to be said about the trans experience in general! I just won’t really have any new big milestones to make.

I hope you enjoyed this real quick update, told you i’m not interesting in the slightest.

Thanks for reading

Alex

 

Life update

Its been a little while since I last updated everyone who bothers to read this, so I figured better late than never, right?

I’ve been trying to write this for roughly 2 weeks and it will more than likely take me hours, if not a couple of days to write the update and I’ll explain why in a moment, but first, as some of you may know, I had surgery last December and I had my last post-op check up on the 2nd of October. I’m recovering well and have finally been discharged. The week after (8th) I had a pre-op appointment to get a hysterectomy and I will be going into surgery again this December. I must really have a thing for timing surgeries for around Christmas. So that is one of my biggest pieces of news.  Now, back why it will definitely take me way too long to write this- I’ve finally come off my anti-depressants. For anyone who might not know, I was on Sertraline for a year due to many different factors in my life and whilst it helped me massively over a little bump, I felt it was time to stop depending on them (although theres nothing wrong with that!). So, starting in August, I began weaning myself off (I got my gps permission- anyone considering coming off meds, ALWAYS get a professionals permission). 6 days ago, I finally ran out of tablets (yay!), but now I am having very bad withdrawal symptoms, which are leaving me exhausted and struggling, hence why it might take me absolutely ages to write a quick update.

Anyways, that’s pretty much everything thats been going on with my lately, other than my ongoing visa quest which is at a standstill and is beginning to infuriate me, but theres not an awful lot I can do other than joke about it- if I don’t laugh I will cry.

Near future quests include going to London to see my friend, visit the British library, Tate gallery (last time I visited the Tate I was exhausted and hadn’t eaten in 24 hours, so honestly I don’t even remember what I saw), hopefully get in a few photoshoots- if I don’t manage to get portraits, I am definitely going to be visiting Canary Wharf at night and photograph the hell out of it; and go to yet another protest.

Another future quest is my ongoing struggle to get a job that I don’t completely hate. PLEASE someone remind me when I do finally move, that I never want another job in hospitality, its slowly draining the ever loving life out of me.

Honestly not a lot more is going on, I’m living a very slow, boring, yet oddly exhausting (yay depression!!) life.

As predicted, this took me 3 days to write.

Feel free to subscribe to my site if you want reminders for my mundane updates to make yourself feel better about what you’ve accomplished! (We all love reading about someone else self loathing, right??)

I PROMISE there will be a new post next week about my trip to London because honestly a trip to London is the most exciting thing to a Northern boy.

  • Alex

Summer’s coming to an end

ITS SEPTEMBER!!

That means, spooky season is upon us. In fact I went into a store today and their halloween aisle was already set up and I had to refrain from buying all of the candy, gravestones and skeletons (I daren’t get any until October 1st otherwise I’ll end up with WAY too much stuff, actually, can you ever have too much spooky time stuff?) Anyway, tangent! that’s not what this post is about- again, October 1st I’ll talk about this a lot more, but I am afraid y’all will be sick of me if I get too excited now.

So, back onto topic, I swear there is a point to this post. Technically its not the end of summer yet, even though in the UK it definitely feels like it is- I’m already back in sweaters and complaining its cold- the weather just can’t win, damn climate change. I have been noticing though that my back garden, which is a blooming masterpiece (mind the pun) in the summer, has started to die back. This means autumn is quick approaching and also means that I can get some wonderful photos of decaying nature, which is exactly what I’ve done.

Of course, it wouldn’t be my photography, without the signature lgbt+ vibes/ film vibes. So I hope you enjoy the collection of super spur of the moment photos that I took. Read to the end for techniques and a quick summary of my favourite trip this Summer (or just appreciate the photos- its completely up to you!)

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Before I move onto my favourite trip, the technique I used for the photos involving rainbows, was the trusty CD and torch method. This is actually the first time i’ve managed to perfect it and I’m sure I can do even better if I had a second person to make the rainbows- its surprisingly hard to hold 3 things and take a photo when you only have 2 hands. If anyone tried this, please tag me in the photos and show me!

Now, onto mu favourite trip this summer. It was definitely the single camping trip I took. I completely forgot how much I enjoy camping until this. I visited the Lake District, Grasmere and Ambleside to be specific and gosh the scenery is so inspiring- I felt like I could write a whole novel, write amazing poetry and take the most amazing photos (the inspiration faded soon after I left, definitely need to spend more than a weekend there). I’ve attached the few photos I took, I am the WORST and didn’t take my camera, oops, it’s a good job my phone is great at capturing moments!

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The exhibition

Gosh I bet you’re all SICK of me talking about this exhibition, but please, let me be excited and proud of everything I’ve accomplished!

The day was finally upon us, 14/06/19, the exhibition opened. Everything in place, my work had been up for multiple weeks (I had terrible visions of it somehow falling down or getting damaged before opening day), all that was needed now was the people who were interested in viewing photography.

4:30pm Celebratory drinks.

5:30pm The guests arrived.

I of course hung around my work, my ego needed to hear kind words being spoken about something I finally put into the real-world public realm rather than online. I was not disappointed like I feared I was going to be. Thankfully people actually took time out of their schedules to not only look at my work, but to meticulously read the captions that my wonderfully brave models had written about their trans experience and then reflect upon those words. I heard people asking “is that really how the world views trans people?” and unfortunately all I could think was “yes” and this made me realise that there is still so much awareness that can be done. It appears that within the trans community, these topics are often heard, the hatred seems to be amplified in our ears and we can’t escape it, whilst it is totally possible for cis people to turn a blind eye, cover their ears and pretend that they haven’t heard the unkind, targeted words. They may read the articles within the media of scare-mongering, but it does not affect them and they may not necessarily notice the people that are actually being affected by the words, therefore its easy to forget, however, when it is presented to them in an art/visual form, it is a lot harder to escape. It is happening and there needs to be more to make it stop.

Past the opening night, on 17/06/19 I had a very engaging conversation with an older man, whom I was wary around as I unfortunately haven’t had much luck with the older generation accepting the trans community as a whole, but he was very engaged with the work, had lots of respective questions and was thankful that I had brought light to something that he didn’t quite understand the ins and outs of before viewing the work, but understood that society needed to change further to support LGBT+ people. He left with different sources that he had asked me to direct him to and I felt so happy having a good experience and chat with someone who was genuinely understanding and friendly. It makes me feel as though my work is truly making some kind of difference even if it is just within the local community, for now.

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Exhibition opening dates

17/06/19- 21/06/19

10am-4pm

6 Green Terrace, Sunderland SR1 3PZ

 

2 weeks over

If you read my last post then you’ll know I visited my parter in New York for the past 2 weeks. You may also know that I have been endlessly applying for jobs there, so far unsuccessfully, but hopefully luck will strike and I’ll be in the state where my heart seems to belong.

Over the next few days, I will be suffering from jet lag but I will hopefully pick up motivation to post the photos I took- I kinda regret taking them on film now!

However, here’s a quick selection of the photos I took on my phone

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The flight
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NJ Renaissance faire
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NJ Renaissance faire
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View from the top of the intrepid
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Alices tea shop chapter 2
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The highline
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Hudson yards, NYC
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The highline
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Hudson yards, NYC
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The color factory
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NYC public library
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NYC public library
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NYC public library

I hope you enjoyed this quick selection of photos (I know they’re far from professional, phone cameras SUCK!)

I can’t wait to post my actual photos.

A new update will be coming very soon, lots of exciting things are happening right now.

Thankyou for reading this jet-lagged, exhausted post- I hope you enjoyed it.

 

  • Alex

Hours left to go

Exhibition finished. Final module finished. Degree completed.

Holiday well earned.

The countdown begins; the last few hours before I leave to NY from the UK.

Today has been surprisingly productive as I’ve ran around like a headless chicken packing a suitcase, back pack and cleaning my house before I leave for 2 weeks. Maybe I need to go on holiday more often so my house gets a good spring clean!

So, let’s start in chronological order (that definitely makes more sense than jumping about). On Monday I began exhibition prep, painting walls, filling gaps and sanding filler. I am definitely not cut out for DIY and decorating- I will definitely have to hire someone in the future- it was EXHAUSTING. This took 2 days (who needs the gym when you can have arm day, painting). On Wednesday I began hammering the nails in the wall and sticking my captions up. Again, I am NOT to be trusted with a hammer, some how I completely missed a nail and my finger made a lovely crunch sound. However, I managed to get everything set up, on the wall and looking great.

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Heres a quick sneak peek!

Now that that’s done, it’s time to unwind and enjoy the break I more than deserve. This semester I have proven myself to be determined and able to do things that 3 years ago I would have thought was impossible. I have never been so proud of myself. The sleepless nights and tears were more than worth it to see my work on display- just the opening night to survive now!

Anyway, at the time of writing this there is exactly 7.5 hours till I start my long journey to NYC. I have been awake too long, travel anxiety is kicking in, but I know once I’m there it will be as much of a surreal experience as it was last time.

I have my Spotify playlists downloaded, a poem book: “the sun and her flowers- Rupi Kaur”, a notebook for any sketches/thoughts and my switch to keep me company on my flights and the thought that in only a few hours I will be hugging my partner and all my worries will disappear.

I may or may not go mia for the 2 weeks I’m gone, but who knows, what I do know though is I have 5 rolls of 35mm film and they will be full of the most wonderful photos when I arrive back in the UK.

Be prepared for new stuff soon and the exhibition reveal!

-Alex