It’s not black and white.
I thought I had to define myself with one thing. People said have a niche so you can stand out. Find something you love and stick to it.
But what happens when passions change and curiosities grow?
I did conceptual photography for a few years, it was my therapy. But eventually, it wasn’t enough. I learned new things and different techniques, but they weren’t “on brand”. And that’s how my fear of social media became crippling. My instagram feed had to be consistent, there were rules and tips and tricks to gain the most likes, get the most engagement. I even bought an online course on maximizing your reach and gaining more followers. Somewhere along the line, creating art became a chore and I hated it.
There’s this need or pressure to share; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Even when people shared the “ugly”, it was made beautiful somehow. Like beautiful tragedies. But there’s an ugliness I don’t see out there, the ugliness that looks like mine. It’s brave when people share their failures, but what about the nothingness? What about sitting in front of a blank page for hours, unable to produce anything that’s remotely decent? Or when you set up an entire shoot and then come out with absolutely nothing. It just started feeling like even the failed shoots had to be shared, even the blank pages.. take a picture of that, put whatever popular filter is at the time on it and post it on instagram. Caption it: writer’s block.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with it or people who feel the need to share everything, it’s just not me. I couldn’t make it me even though I tried. I used to be vulnerable, speak openly about my depression, and man did I get admiration from that. But then I took a step back from creativity, without realizing it, and I’m feeling myself crumble from the absence of the outlet I once had.
Over the past few years, I made stuff. I made art, I wrote poems and short stories. But I’ve been hoarding it, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s fear of being compared to my past self, but maybe this fear comes from within. Like I’m afraid of my own judgment, staring at old work, remembering the attention it got, and comparing it to this new technique I’ve been trying that I’ve learned from someone else and it’s not entirely me.
I’m afraid I’ll never create anything that’s authentically me. But I don’t even know what that means. Originality is something I’m struggling with. There’s so much of the same, and I don’t want to be just another voice in this noise.
Here I am again, willing to be vulnerable and willing to share, for my own sanity. I have a collection of things I’ve been making and never posted. Eventually, maybe, each one will have it’s own blog post. Maybe together they won’t make sense, maybe on my instagram feed it’ll look like a jumbled mess, but I’m putting a brave face on and trying this again:
Hi, welcome. If you’ve read this far, thank you. I’m a 29 year old creative, happily married, with a small plant obsession and an adorable dog. Oh, and I have chronic depression.
2020 amani alshaali amani alshaali blog conceptual conceptual photographer conceptual photography creative depression female photographer dubai female photographer UAE fine art fine art photographer fine art photography insecurities insecurity mental health uae conceptual photographer UAE photographer