1 Year Post University.

Being creative is hard.

Understanding Art is hard.

Being an artist and understanding you own art is equally is challenging. 

Lets rewind 5 years. I had always loved photography as a method of creative outlet and communication. With a new camera in hand It soon because my joy to photograph, edit, read between the lines, understand why I took that photograph in that way, what it means to me and what it might mean to other people. I wanted to know more. Learn more. Be creative more. This lead me to signing up for a photography degree at my local university.

Studying photography was great, but it changed my relationship with creativity and photography forever. Photography was my freedom, my grounding, my expression. University was fast passed and challenging. We didn’t always do what we wanted to do. Deadlines came thick and fast, and them photographs I loved taking just a few months before felt like a chore, they felt pressured and fake. A new project every couple of months covering something different. Essays, presentations, group work, Reading, Lectures, organised creativity, rationals and reasoning for why the photographs were considered. Although university helped my technique, my understanding of art theory, lightning ratios, and various methods of traditional photography. Myself, and freedom as a creative got left at the door on the way in.

Fast-forward to now, Just over a year after I graduated with a first class Bachelors of Arts Honours degree. I have hardly touched my camera. Those images produced from projects I can’t compete with. How can I compile a project so in depth without guidance. Without a theme to work from. With no deadline or goal. I was a photography student, and I was working towards my deadlines, taking images for my degree. What am I taking images for now? 

Before I started my degree I would have never been asking that question, I was free and took images as my creative outlet and way of communicating. I didn’t know or need to know the images I wanted to capture. 

I want to get back into the mind state where I can take photographs freely.

For the past few months I have teaching myself how to draw. I have never been able to draw, but I have always been creative, and I finally feel like I improving past the stick man stage.

It has taken just over a year for me to ‘recover’ from University. To want to be creative again. To get away from the conditioning that University has imprinted on me, and allowing myself to be creative ‘just because’.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved University. I love learning, but all that pressure, those deadlines, they took something away from me that it is now, slowly coming back.

And i can’t wait to share this with you.

The loudest person I know

“One of the most commonly reported challenges for people with autism spectrum conditions is hypersensitivity to noise” (Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 20 (10), 1–9])

My project “Dylan” explores a child with autism spectrum disorder and his relationship with photography. During my exploration, I have found that the camera and other visual platforms are providing key parts in his learning.

So far I have found they can be categorised into three steps. 
- Being overwhelmed and hiding. 
- Transitioning, using photography to help overcome overwhelming feelings.
- Using photography to Learn and gain a more thorough understanding of the emotions being felt.

These images demonstrate the first step, being overwhelmed, whilst he is the loudest person I know, he is becoming increasingly sensitive to sounds, not just how loud they are but a culmination of sounds in the environment.

Dylan Loves Photographs!

Dylan is an amazing, loving little boy who has been obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine for as long as I can remember. Dylan didn’t start trying to communicate verbally until he was nearly 4 years old, but this didn’t stop him communicating in other ways. He loved movies, especially those with lots of songs and he would hum the tune and memorise the actions to parts of the movie that others wouldn’t deem to be significant. Around this same time, I discovered he loved the camera. I am a nearly graduated photography student, but photography has always been a significant part of out lives, and although Dylan loves being in photographs, what he loves more is taking them. If I so much as leave my camera unattended for a few moments there is no doubt he would have turned it on and started taking pictures of everything that interests him, and then proceeded to show me the images he had taken.

I started to wonder if this is how he was trying to communicate with me in a way other than just grunting and pointing. With the start of school looming, I didn’t want him to stand out as the child who couldn’t talk, so I used photographs he had taken, along with graphical depictions, as cue cards to help him learn, and want to communicate verbally. To my surprise, it worked! Dylan needed more than just an object, and spoken word to help him learn, he was a visual learner who thrived from viewing imagery. 

Back to today. Dylan is three-quarters of the way through his first year of mainstream school, and he is doing great! We see a speech therapist every 3-6 months, and although his speech progress is slow, he is still improving! He talks to other children at school (when he wants too), and bosses around his older brother at home.

Currently, Me and Dylan and are working on understanding different emotions, we take turns in choosing the emotion that the other has to create, and then we photograph them! This way Dylan can reflect back on the images if he gets stuck or forgets. Most importantly, we have fun doing it and making our relationship stronger. What I found really interesting during this time was that on some occasions Dylan knew exactly why he was sad on the photograph (he wanted juice not water) even if it was taken a few months prior. While on other occasions, in particularly when looking at images of other people or characters, Dylan expressed his current feelings as that characters reason for that emotion (He wants his blanket). 

Until Next Time
- Jennifer

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