“The only time she has anything resembling a life is when she sleeps because when she sleeps, she can dream.” – Donna Lynn Hope
My intention behind this photo series is to convey the idea where dreams are better than reality, and that one would much rather remain sleeping than wake up. From there I considered the reasons as to why one would consider dreaming a better place to reside in than reality. At first I considered the idea of a three part dismantling of a fantasy relationship, but felt it would be too typical. Finally, I considered depicting a person’s fixation on their failures and how this pushes them finding escape in their much brighter, much more successful dreams, quite literally.
Inspired by a personal friend’s trials, I decided I was going to attempt to depict the character’s trial with depression and self-hate in their waking world, and how in their dreams, they are the complete opposite of themselves.
This photoset is really a four part series instead of three:
- the Dream: the ideal world
- the Reality: the state of being awake
- the Deconstruction: flashes between reality and dreaming
- the Choice: the ultimate decision of choosing being Dreams and Reality
The first major scene will be with the character in their dreams where they are everything they want to be, and what they hope and what they wish for. I wanted to make sure these two worlds are shown to be separate and a stark contrast from each other from the start.
The second major scene is meant to show the stark contrast of reality, compared to soft colours of their dreamscape. Their reality is meant to be mundane, boring, black and white. There is a boredom to their routine, cold, lifeless and repetitive in a way that does not come from discipline, but from apathy.
In the third part the character herself becomes unable to discern between the truth and the lies. Dreams and reality start overlapping; she wants so badly to escape to her dream world that her reality has been tainted by her fantasies. This is also where she feels the extent of her failure, her expectations the most, weighing in upon her like a dark cloud.
Finally, she makes her choice in the fourth scene: going back to her Dreams, where she could be so much happier, where her failures disappears and her expectations are realised.The viewers themselves start becoming confused: has the character really been dreaming? Or has she been awake? Was she ever awake at all? Or is this still part of her dreamscape? The ending leaves itself to ambiguity. She could be sleeping and dreaming again, or the pills could ultimately have chosen to take her from her unending, harsh realities. It is up to the viewer to decide.
The reality and overlapping shots are in black and white as I wanted to depict the mundane quality of the protagonist’s life. This is to contrast against the soft, brightly lit colours of her dream. In her dream, her friends are faceless, as is real dreams where you never really truly remember who you were talking to or interacting with. The shots here also include more wide shots to really show off the environment. The reality and overlapping shots are more close-ups, to really get up close and personal to the character and her trial with this illness.
My artist references are Katie Crawford and Christian Hopkins.
Katie did a series called My Anxious Heart, whereupon she depicted her own journey with anxiety. Her images depict the many symptoms and effects of anxiety, with dark imagery helps one understand the impact the illness has on her.
Some images include:
Christian Hopkins himself did a series on his own trial with depression. The dark, eerie photographs really capture the essence of his battle with this mental illness. One can really feel how much it holds him captive in his embrace.
The Final Piece
Not only did I gain a better understanding about depression as an illness and it’s effects on their victims, I also learned how to inject more emotion into my imagery. I also gained more knowledge about technical skill and composition, and how to tell a narrative with images so as to form a cohesive story. All in all, it was a very interesting and eye-opening experience that really let me gain insight about a mental illness, as well as the technical aspects of the project.