I see a lot of things online that talk about how it's best to be extremely selective with the work you share and very intentional when it comes to what you shoot. I deeply respect people who can work that way but I realized recently that the types of photos I enjoy taking for myself in my spare time aren't groundbreaking conceptual masterpieces and that's okay. It feels good to just get out and walk and notice things. If something catches my eye for more than half a second I take a picture of it. It might not be well thought out but this is what I saw.
My hometown. November 22. The leaves are off most of the trees now. Things around the city are always slightly different every time I come back. Grand Rapids is a city that’s growing and the things I enjoy the most - graffiti, old buildings, and the charm of things that are a little less than perfect - keep getting harder to find. But that sense of familiarity you get when you visit the place you grew up is there no matter what. And I love Grand Rapids, I really do. There's something reassuring about being back in your hometown. It feels grounding. It takes me back to all the uncertainty and loneliness I felt growing up and even though I'm still growing up, looking back feels good. Things start to make sense in hindsight.
(my friend, Valeria)
I spent a lot of time in high school driving around the city and this is something I continue to do any time I’m home. Sometimes it’s driving in search of things to photograph, sometimes it’s just to enjoy the freedom of being in a car. Being able to go for a drive to clear my head is something I miss when I’m in Chicago. There’s something about being out of a big city for a bit, something about remembering what it’s like to be able to drive down a winding road at night and not see much other than trees and fields. It's something that's always helped me feel less anxious.
It's funny, what changes and what stays the same as life goes on. Moving away gave me this weird feeling of being in two places at once. I'm home with my family and all the familiarity of the place I grew up but I'm also in Chicago attempting to figure out who I am and what I'm going to do with my life. But it's change and it's good and just like the time I spent in Grand Rapids makes more sense looking back, so will the experiences I'm living right now.
When I first got a camera and started driving around my hometown I was taking pictures of whatever caught my eye. Photography was something that made me happy; I took pictures purely for my own enjoyment. Time passed, and I branched out from just wandering around shooting into doing a lot of photography jobs because I put pressure on myself to say yes to everything that came my way. Something that had previously been a creative outlet became a chore I dreaded doing and as a result, I burned out.
There were a lot of other factors at play in this burnout. I was overextending myself in other areas of my life and, as a result, my anxiety was at an all-time high while my self-esteem was at an all-time low. So I shut down.
I continued to meet up with people and shoot portraits for my personal portfolio but I would let the photos sit unedited for far too long. At the same time, the other areas of life in which I was struggling became more and more overwhelming. I hit my lowest point in April when I was hospitalized for passing out due to exhaustion.
Since then, things have slowly been getting better. I learned what I could handle and when to say no. There's a lot I'm still working on but I can see and feel progress.
It's November now and I'm at a point where I'm taking photos again. I know my limits and I'm at a much better place in life. I have a more positive outlook and I'm ready to see where that can take me. I'll be writing more here, too. Photos say a lot by themselves but I want to give more context to the images I share.