(From Aug. 2019)

Over the weekend, I felt the weight of all the work I would be doing in school for the next few months in the center of my chest, and a panic stirred inside of me.

The burnout from a full summer had finally struck, and it hit me like a new basketball to the nose during recreation time at summer camp in second grade.

But on Saturday night, with school work and pressures on my mind, I pulled out my camera and started taking pictures.

I never really know why I do it. At some point since getting my camera, it became an extension of my hand. Even just taking pictures on my phone brings me some sort of peace, and helps me cope with whatever internal drama my brain is heating up.

Lately I’ve felt sort of turned around. As I move from one place to another, I’m struggling to hold on to the parts of me I’ve grown to love, and to let go of the ones I hate. just one month ago, the way I saw the world and my place in it was completely different than it is now. I’ve got all of the same parts with me as I did then, but each of my past selves feels like an eternity away.

Thinking of having all the same parts is what makes me sane, I think. But who knows how those parts ebb and flow each day.

Every lamp was on in my dim, one-window bedroom. I sat in front of my mirror, and with the self timer linked to my phone, I took pictures. Nearly 100 of them. Here are some of my results.

Printing photos wasn’t something I would have thought to do on my own, but after an intro photo class with a professor who swore by it (thank you Ben Reynolds), I now print almost every photo I take. A friend and I laid all the images out and picked our favorites, arranged them, re-picked, and re-arranged again.

By the end of it, I had narrowed it down to these six images, all from the same vantage point. The images show me in the mirror, moving just before the shutter opened.

After picking images, I thought the hard part was over. But after moving them around again and again, I found myself struggling to find the right place for each one. Each series said something a little different. And I wasn’t sure how different people would read them.

Here are two of the other arrangements I considered:

The image above kept the transition from up-side-down to right-side-up that I loved about the first arrangement.

But overall, this one seemed to be the favorite when I asked folks, and it was the first one we came up with.

Letting my mind wander and overthink the direction of photos was therapeutic, and in the end I came up with three solid arrangements for these images. But sometimes the photos speak for themselves.

A friend told me that the top image required the most thought, while the bottom image was the easiest on the eyes. I’m not sure my message was meant to be easy, but I also don’t want it to be too difficult to access.

These were some of the last photos I took. But the way my reflection looked in the mirror was why I started to take the photos in the first place. The photos I took before these were trying to do something different than what I initially saw.

Both of my gut reactions were what I ended up loving most about these pictures, but I spent a heck of a lot of time trying to do something else.

I ramble through this process mostly so future Amy can remember that sometimes the best work comes from a feeling. Trust your gut.

And just a reminder: the state of a person’s innards when they look at what you’ve created is often the guide for their response to it. So don’t worry about other folks’ innards, just your own.

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