Writing is hard for me; which I find amusing because I went to the University of Iowa to be a writer. Very quickly into my collegiate career, I learned that writing assumes a level of confidence with putting yourself out there for people to see (ie. judge) that I was never comfortable with. What I’m starting to realize is that other art forms are exactly the same. In photographing an object, the photographer is capturing what they see in that object, in that moment, for everyone else to see (ie. judge).
In 2012, I was knee deep in The Lyric Project, and my favorite song of the moment was “Shattered” by OAR. At the time I was still boxing and I knew exactly what I wanted to do – smash a mirror and photograph my reflection. What I didn’t realize was that I needed to be mad, mad down to the bottom of my soul, to get the image I really wanted.
After I settled on the lyric from the chorus, I went to Michael’s, bought a mirror, took it home and stared at it for a long time. A really l-o-n-g time. I thought about breaking it on a curb and piecing it back together but said “no, if anything is real, it has to be this.” and would put it back in my desk drawer. I did this on and off for a couple of months until I (sadly) got “mad to the bottom of my soul” that I wanted (needed) to make the image I envisioned. I still remember the day…I was so mad I couldn’t think about anything else. I got dressed, did my hair and makeup, set everything up in my basement, set the auto timer on my camera, and took dozens of shots. And then I put up the final image with its quote:
“How many times can I break ‘til I shatter? Over the line, can’t define what I’m after. I always turn the car around. Give me a break; let me make my own pattern. All that it takes is some time, but I’m shattered.”
Everyone who was in my fan base or my personal friend could see this image on multiple social media sites, and I was ok with that. Even now when I post the image, people ask me what I was so angry about and I answer that it was just a look for the picture, but that wasn’t entirely true.
Everyone who knows me well knows I’ve had a rough few months. Last week I was looking for an older picture for my upcoming Graffiti Wall series and found the raw images from this day. It wasn’t what I saw in what would become the final image that made me want to write this, but the preceding images. They were real, and hauntingly intoxicating. I was MAD. To the bottom of my soul; and right now I’ve been that MAD for months. It is exactly the same look, the same feeling, the same desire that I have right now. I want to smash a mirror. What’s the tricky part is how to get over that anger; how to constructively harness it, and make it into something good and possibly even beautiful. I never showed anyone the raw images because I didn’t want to put that part of myself out there. I wanted to hide what was that real and only display the end result. But in showing just the final image, I didn’t show the whole experience, and that is just as revealing as the final product.
So without fear of being judged, here are the unedited images I never wanted to show; until now.
“How many times can I break ‘til I shatter? Over the line, can’t define what I’m after. I always turn the car around. All that I feel is the realness I’m faking; taking my time, but it’s time that I’m wasting.”