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

 

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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Top 10 creators

This is going to be a very quick post, but I’ve realised I don’t seem to really post on my site which creators I love and who inspires me, so here goes, a list of my top 10! (with links cos what’s the point if I don’t give you access to their content)

  1. Anastasia Tasou She creates the most wonderful line art work. She’s really taught me how to not give a damn what others think of your work and to create things that you want to create. She also creates the cutest self help zines & will do custom tattoo designs.
  2. Travis Alabanza They’re a wonderful poet- their words are in my experimental video! They’re also currently touring with a theatre show called “burgerz” that (without giving too much away) is about the transphobia that they face.
  3. Neil Hilborn He’s another poet! He writes about mental health and every poem of his brings out she kind of intense emotion. You’ve probably already seen his work before, but he definitely deserves a place on this list!
  4. Fox Fisher Fox is a non binary creator, who creates videos with “my genderation” as well as their own solo political art. They are one of my main inspirations for any of my political projects- they’re truly a great person.
  5. Rinko Kawauchi Inspired 90% of my photographic aesthetic, from cool tones to very light and airy lighting and square format. I’m very thankful that I found her work, it truly resonates with me.
  6. Amber Ive followed Amber on instagram for a long time and for real whenever I see her work my jaw drops. Her witch vibe rooms and nature drawings are stunning and I definitely wish I could live inside her art!
  7. Ksenia Zim Is another creator who’s work makes my jaw DROP. I could only imagine in my wildest dreams being as good at embroidery as they are. Their Aurora Borealis embroidery is just amazing.
  8. Percy Moon Percy’s one of my closest friends and his art is stunning! Honestly if I had the funds I would definitely buy everything that he’s created!
  9. The obscure Collective This is the collective I was a part of for my end of year exhibition and everyone in this collective inspires me in a different way. We all achieved so much and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of classmates.
  10. Craftywhitemice My last person who inspires me is my mum! I love being around her when she’s creating things and she definitely reminds me where I get my creativity from!

 

The list could go on for ever, but I’ll stop here! Be sure to check out the people listed, they deserve so much appreciation

A new kind of professional.

How do you define professional? Is it someone with no tattoos and piercings, someone with no public personality and someone who always keeps up a perfect persona? If it is, get with the times!

Honestly, I don’t even think there is such thing as a “professional” anymore, just people, who due to capitalism, are more well-known than others. For example (lets stick with something I know and say creators), now, creators fall into many categories and sub categories, such as “famous”, “Professional”, “amateur”, “beginner” etc, but in reality, the “famous” people are just those with large followings and may in fact be less “professional” than those who fall into the professional category. Okay my heads beginning to spin with all this!

Essentially where I’m trying to get to with this, is that many people will tell you that sharing your thoughts and feelings, ups and downs on social media is deemed unprofessional. This may have been true many years ago, but now, in the age of technology, it is often a way to connect with your larger audience. People don’t want to follow people who are closed off, seemingly “perfect” as this isn’t a true representation of anyone on the planet. No one only has highs and whilst its seemingly an influencers talent to only show the pool parties, holidays and luxury foods, this, as pointed out by many articles, is just not real-life. However, I also do not think that we should shame these people for only showing their highs, just as we shouldn’t shame people for showing their highs and lows.

For me, and many other people, posting our struggles help combat the dark times we are going through. I personally, don’t tend to do it as often as I did, purely because my mind is in a much better place, however, if I was to mentally struggle again I would not want to be deemed “unprofessional” and “unemployable” for this. Many people praise mental health advocates for says x, y and z about mental health, the congratulate magazines for writing an article romanticising depression, but when someone who may be in the public eye shows the ugly sides of these mental illnesses, they are automatically deemed as unprofessionalism. From what I can gather, this is often because people never want to actually admit that these things happen to people, but on the flip side, there are people who are genuinely grateful that people share these experiences because it makes them feel less alone.

Lets use my own experiences for example, being a transgender male, I have struggled with many aspects of my identity, coming to terms with the fact I wasn’t cis and having very extreme lows due to dysphoria. I have documented this process throughout to where I am today, not for “attention”, but to hopefully make at least one person feel less alone in what they are experiencing and to normalise the feelings that trans people experience throughout their transition. Now, in the past, this could have been seen as unprofessional as sometimes, the experience isn’t happy and has been a source of great depression, sharing this would have been frowned upon. However, in 2019, this is helpful and the age of the internet is turning into a generation who can share their experiences, without fear that they are going to be viewed differently.

This is a shift from the last “unprofessional” debate that happened (and is still ongoing), of tattoos and piercings. As lots of people rightly think nowadays, “How on earth do tattoos and piercings mean that you cannot fulfil your job correctly”, there are still the odd person from previous generations of people who see them as strictly “unprofessional” and not suitable for work places. Thankfully, many places are becoming accustomed to allowing workers to have tattoos, piercing and dyed hair. So, when will people stop seeing mental health as an unprofessional trait to have- when in reality, it is not something that we choose. Why is talking about our own mental health experiences seen as unprofessional?

I’ll leave you here with one last thought: How is someone tweeting “Today I really want to die” seen as unprofessional, yet the President of the USA tweeting childish statements such as; “Truly weird Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky reminds me of a spoiled brat without a properly functioning brain. He was terrible at DEBATE!” and “Dopey @Lord_Sugar I’m worth $8 billion and you’re worth peanuts…without my show nobody would even know who you are.” You would almost think as president, he would have some kind of standard to uphold, but apparently not. (I have chosen slightly less offensive tweets) And I mean do I even need to say it? Talking publicly about grabbing woman by the p*ssy is DEFINITELY unprofessional and for ever will be.

I’ll definitely stick to reading people live tweet their depressive episodes (and of course reach out) and tweet my own depressive episodes, than read/tweet completely absurd, offensive, childish drivel.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Alex

*it was a long one this time oops, full rant mode got me*

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

Revisiting my photographic roots

When I began university in 2016, finding out I was able to process and hand print colour negatives was beyond exciting. I had spent 2 years prior processing my own black and white negatives and printing them and only dreamed of being able to do colour- it was suddenly becoming a reality.

I had a camera that hadn’t been used since I was 12 that still had a roll of colour film in it. It had taken years of wondering what I might find on the film for me to FINALLY buy new batteries for it and find out. Unfortunately there was none- I was hoping for old memories to resurface, but it wasn’t the end of the world.

Getting the camera working again made me think about creating new memories using the methods I used as a child, with the equipment that was available to me as a child. So I reloaded some film and visited my favourite place in the North East of England- the beach!

Ever since I watched Submarine, a few years ago, I fell utterly in love with the aesthetic and nostalgia of the movie and instantly I could see how these photos had a very similar feeling.

Revisiting the camera that I used as a child to take photos of my dog, school residential trips and family felt so refreshing. It is always refreshing to have a project that isn’t stressful and to a strict deadline, aesthetic and theme. I’ve been realising recently, self-care projects are so important. Yes, I love everything I create, but going back to create something that doesn’t matter if it goes wrong and it doesn’t matter if its ever shown to the world, is so personal and so lovely.

So as a note to anyone reading this- Do a self-care project, right now, you’ll feel amazing inspired afterwards!

Find this full project HERE

Thanks for reading!

Alex Costin