“Butterfly fly away”. The butterfly, it was recently an image I soon associated myself with. Feeling encaged and suffocated in the way I’ve been living – under certain conditions, abiding to rules I didn’t like – I have always yearned to be free. To live without being tied down to societal terms. And hence in a way a butterfly represented what I wanted to be because it was always beautiful especially when it’s growing and blooming into becoming a butterfly itself, and then flying off – doesn’t matter where it goes, it’s seeing the world (nature around it). It’s exploring, it’s growing. By keeping it close to heart, to me, it gives me strength to embrace the state I am in right now, it gives me hope that someday I will be free too, and I will find my way in life while growing to be ‘that’ beautiful being. Just like how we all grow from just being a child. The necklace itself matters to me because my parents bought it for me on an occasion where I felt they were genuinely proud of me – this was years ago, it was a time I was truly happy. I barely ever take them out, because it also reminds me of childhood – free, and happy. That’s what butterflies are usually associated to. And sometimes I long for that childhood.
The colours and lighting in the pictures plays an important part in contributing to the message behind the pictures. The natural lighting coming from outside helps to draw attention to the character inside that is looking out (in this case it’s me). There’s a usage of both tonal and color separation here. They are slightly warm (the orangey tones from the sunrays) and slightly cold (the light bluish tone present in the background) as each symbolises something. The warm tones symbolises the fact that something good is waiting despite the (cold tones lingering) uncertainty I’m feeling in my life. Hence the mood that is present.
Now referring to the mood that is present, we focus on the facial expressions I give when interacting with the object. Realise that in each photo there’s barely an expression but mainly a far-away gaze, perhaps only expressing longing. That longing, is the longing for the freedom mentioned earlier on. Also the idea of nostalgia because I am missing my childhood that the necklace represents hence clutching to it tightly. What inspired me to come up with such an emotion and made sure it was depicted well through pictures, was the artworks of Sally Mann’s “Candy Cigarette” and all her other works in “At 12: Portraits of young women” (as seen below).
Two of her pictures in “At 12: Portraits Of Young Women”
These young women distill something for the eye, something beautiful and sad and moving, something purely female and that is exactly something I want my pictures to incline towards. Another female artist that I was inspired by is Nan Goldin. Looking at the lighting in her photos through the film photography she took up makes me want to do something alike. There is that effect present – vintage, and melancholic.
The shadows play a huge part in this too, even with a slight tint of it showing. An example would be the half-spaced out shadows covering half of the picture that looks like a cage/prison cell. I waited for the sun to set to get the rays off the balcony grill in my house, as it will produce this lovely shadow. I knew it will give this effect off because I used to experiment waiting for the timing before for my other photos last year.
In my picture, I feel like the shadow meant a lot in symbolising the cage I feel like I’m in. And if you notice, the butterfly from my necklace shone abit when the rays reflected off it, it found itself in the middle of the space to be present in light and not those shadows. I look at the photo and to me that meant something. It just symbolises that despite the fact that I do sometimes feel caged, I still have that part of me that lingers in the light and still growing, soon to fly and explore freely. Thus having my hand slightly above my heart, touching the butterfly symbol on my necklace, is to remind the audience of the sense of closeness I have with it – how significant it is to me.