Project 12 is a story of self-discovery, self-healing, and transformation in 12 images. You can read my particular story in the backstory of project 12 but this visual story can be told with different words.
Since this is a story, it should be told in a particular order. Every image has its place here and there is nothing left to chance. Let me guide you through it. Let me tell you the story.
All prints are Archival-prints. They are UV-resistant. That means the colors will not change with time.
25 copies, 40×60 cm print on Ilford smooth pearl paper on dibond with acrylic glass and hanging frame. This edition is ready to hang on your wall.
Limited edition: 350 euro incl. taxes
Small B5 prints on glossy paper (Ilford Crystal gloss) with a window mat.
Unlimited edition: 20 euro incl. taxes
Shipping not included.
1 gray and rainy
This is me. Standing all alone. It’s gray and rainy. I’m tired of everything and I don’t know what is wrong exactly. One thing is certain if something doesn’t change, I will not survive.
BTS of 1 – gray and rainy
This image had come to me. It was a classical strike of the muse. I didn’t feel sad anymore but the memory of that feeling was still vividly present in me. I have started with a sketch. Just to order my thoughts and make some decisions already.
Preparation and shooting were not complicated. My white dress together with the wig was ready, as this was my Carnaval 2019 outfit. I shot this while my colleagues were watching and laughing during a lunch break.
Editing was a bit more challenging. I was still learning Photoshop. All in all, I’m quite happy with the end result.
I think. I look deep inside me and this is what I see. Everyone wants something from me. Constantly. My colleagues, my friends, my parents, my partner, my kids. They keep asking and yelling one through the other if I don’t react and provide quickly enough.
BTS of 2 – surrounded
Once again this image had come to me. I don’t know how or why. It just did.
It had come, the moment I stopped seeing other people. I stopped planning things a few months ahead of events. I was spending most of my free time alone. Just in my head. I was taking long walks in nature, or just reading a fiction book in the bathtub for hours. After getting away I have realized what was bothering me and then this just popped into my head.
The shooting was easy. The moment I had the image in my head and sketched, I also knew how I’m going to shoot it. I put my flash on a stand above my head. I rapped it in my flash bender to have a nice tight ray of light and very harsh shadows. This was not to be smooth. I wanted danger and fear to emanate from the image.
The background and floor I covered with black sheets. Just to make the editing easier.
After taking the shots of the figure in the middle I took some more shots of hands and the wig with my focus fixed on the main figure.
Editing went slower than expected. I was still a total newbie to Photoshop and proper ways of selections. I have ended up selecting every hand manually with a pen tool.
I have shown this image to several people. They either don’t like it, because of the very negative scene or they shout out that this is exactly how they feel! I guess mission accomplished.
It’s a lot and I can’t keep up with this pace. I feel incompetent. I feel like a total failure. I feel I’m just an impostor in a world of perfect people.
BTS of 3 – self-doubt
Unlike the 1 – gray and rainy and 2 – surrounded I actually had to work for this image. Perhaps it was because the feeling associated with it was not that evident.
The shooting was easy. Light on a stand 45 degrees above and in front of me. Black background. My dress is actually just a piece of material and curtains.
Once again the editing was harder than expected. I didn’t plan the edges right so I had no nice, sharp edges to cut the inside of the figure. I ended up with no edges and just a gradual fade. I was quite happy with the result, though.
This image got a lot of attention during the first exposition. Perhaps because of the actual magic in it or because more people can resonate with the feeling of being empty. Of being just a shell of a person.
4 the choice
I chose. It’s an excruciating pain to do so. But I know it’s the only way. The only way to survive is to choose the light. Choose and do not linger. I don’t know how much time I still have before the darkness takes me.
BTS of 4 – the choice
I must admit that at this point the project has taken an unexpected turn. Now the story that I was writing took over the narrative and influenced the images a lot. It was exactly the same with this image. This choice, this double feeling about the next step. From very small ones to big and important ones. What will you choose?
After this idea came to me in the story making, a sketch was simple and took no time at all.
In May I have packed a bag with the most necessary props for several pictures. I shot a lot of images during that one day. This was one of them. Once again because I had my sketches and the right props, I didn’t need to take all of the creative decisions there at the spot. Just the small ones 😉
I have spent quite some time editing this image. Blending was an issue and then I didn’t like the sky. I wanted a division, a choice that feels like physical pain and the sky had to resemble the duality and pending doom. Choose wisely and chose quick, there will be no second chances!
6 the flow
With trust and work comes success. And there are moments of uncontained joy. A true euphoria. They are short and pass quickly but they do encourage me to follow the choice that I have made. With time there are more and more of these flow moments.
BTS of 6 – flow
Projects like this one, do not get created chronologically. This was actually 3rd or 4th sketch that I made. At this point, I didn’t even know this will become a project of this scale at all. I just drew something in the colors that I like and somehow it clicked with the previous images and the creative ball started rolling.
Shooting went smoothly… that is when I had finally figured out how to do it. At first, I thought of keeping the exact perspective as in the sketch. But that would require a lot of jumping and coordination. Also quite a tall tripod.
In the end, I had a low tripod, wide-angle lens, and a hill. And yes, there was a lot of jumping.
Back in the studio, it turned out not a single shot was perfect. The figure in the photo is actually stitched from four different images. Ach well…
7 the door
I am happy and positive again. I trust my choice and go out to the world with it. The world listens and provides. Unexpected opportunities arrive. Opportunities that are within my reach to grab. So I do grab them.
BTS of 7 – the door
I don’t really recall when or how I got this idea. It was for sure one of the last sketches and one of the last images that I shot and edited.
It was so hot that day. I was shooting in the mids of summer and it was more than a million degrees outside. Inside was just a bit better, but not by much. I dragged myself to get my gear and wigg. Finally, I was ready to shoot. Except, my flash wasn’t always firing. Not that again! Not on a day like this. In case of trust I could just fake the light in Photoshop, but somehow in this one, it would be really hard and cumbersome. Since I was at home, I just looked for spare batteries and carried on. I got three decent shots and decided to call it a day!
Editing was relatively easy and I have decided to work with textures and overlays again. There is something seriously magical happening when I add them. The image becomes more painterly and profound.
8 the fear
Something else happens as well. The world notices and not everyone is happy about the change. Why can’t you just be normal, they ask. Why do you always need to be so weird? They point their fingers at me. I hope I can fight their judgemental voices in my head. If I can’t, I’ll be back where I started.
BTS of 8 – fear / the freak show
We went to see the circus with our kids. While I was sitting and watching the clouds and acrobats trying to do their tricks and the audience amazed but perhaps, even more, lurking for something to go wrong… an image popped into my head. Perhaps not even an image but an idea. I couldn’t wait for the show to end so that I could finally get to do some sketching.
When you put yourself out there, for others to see, for others to judge… Do they look at you because they admire you or because they consider you strange, weird and entertaining. Perhaps they enjoy to see you struggle?
Then I started to sketch…
I actually asked if I could shoot in the circus, but that was not an option so I thought, well it’s not about the exact place. It’s about the setting. I took some shots in the circus tent, not to use them but to reference them. How’s the light on the performers? How’s the light on the audience? This sort of thing. When I was ready to shoot, I just set up my very own circus in the back garden.
It took a lot of time to edit this image but I think this one is one of my favorite from the entire project.
I see the future before me. It’s bright and I’m happy. I see the beginning of the path that leads to that future and that’s alright. I still can’t move, though. There is still something holding me back. It’s not an iron chain. It’s not feet stuck in concrete. There is something in me that still needs to happen before I can continue.
BTS of 9 – bound
This was a sketch I just made without too much thinking. It wasn’t even meant to be part of the project. The first vision of it was a figure standing on a beach or perhaps even in the see. Very heavy wind…
But then I have arrived at a location and I thought I could shoot right here, right now. All I needed I had with me. This was happening!
Editing was a delight. This is a very positive image at first. All the bright and happy colors, but then you notice the bound hands… and it’s a bit less positive.
During the exposition, this image got a lot of attention and not many people saw the hands. It also got a lot of interpretations. Of which one was it’s an image of someone how is free. Her hands are not bound, she is holding a scarf that she took of her hair.
I hide. I separate myself from the world in a safe place. Not permanently. Just every once in a while. It’s my time. Time to play. Time to enjoy what I can enjoy only alone. It’s my time to rest.
BTS of 10 – rest
The first sketch was just this. A figure lying in the flowers sleeping. But the idea of how to actually shoot it was totally different than how I shot it.
The idea was to have a figure among flowers resting calmly. White hair spread out but not messy. A white dress wrapped around the body and flowers.
Finding the location was actually quite problematic. It was either the wrong flowers or something else that was just not right. I even considered shooting it standing. But then on the way from work, a saw an entire field of these purple flowers. I went there to check it out before I decided to take all my gear out. The flowers seemed to be very dense from the distance, but once there among them… not that much.
As I had no better options and the time was pressing a bit, I decided to shoot there. And then surprise. My first composition totally sucked. I looked more dead than calmly sleeping. The only way to fix it was to… make a bit of mess and just curl up.
This image didn’t require a lot of editing. It was mostly the colors and general feel of the image. I also added some flowers in post.
11 the cycle
And then it happens. I’m dying. It’s not a cataclysm. I die slowly and the pain is unbearable. The old me fights back. It tries to grasp its life. It fights for survival. But it won’t survive. It can’t. I know this pain from before. It happened earlier, a long time ago. The new is still fragile and won’t survive on its own. But it’s there and getting stronger with every day.
BTS of 11 – the becoming
This is one of the last images I created as sketch and almost the last to shoot. It took me some time to wrap the story together, to formulate what I actually wanted to say. Once I had that… how will I show it? That was an issue. I knew I needed a multiplication of the same figure over-and-over. Creating yourself, becoming, transforming, shedding skin… But should it be one drawing the other, that is sculpturing yet another one, even though itself it is not finished yet? In the end I opted for this particular one. It implies the pain of growing. It implies that the old has to die for the new to be born.
The shooting was easy. It just took a lot of changing of dresses and I bet my neighbors had lots of fun watching me in the garden.
Editing wasn’t hard but very time-consuming. And then… I couldn’t save… and then it took 4 hours to figure out what the problem was and to fix it. At some point, I thought I was going to through my Mac out of the window.
Luckily for all of us, everything just ended up fine.
12 create your own world
The old me has accepted its pending death. It made all the funeral arrangements. It won’t take long now. The new me can fully use the available potential and experience of the old me. The new me can grow faster now that the old me is not fighting back anymore. Now the new me can create her own world. However it… However, I like it to be.
BTS of 12 – create your own world
The general idea appeared quite quickly but the details kept bugging me. I have created a few sketches. I was considering a few different locations. And all wasn’t really working. In the end, I have decided actually to put my artist under pressure and just chose something.
So this was my working sketch. I needed a wall and butterflies. Finding a proper wall to shoot wasn’t as easy as I hoped it to be actually. Perhaps also due to the fact that I wanted un ugly location. A lot of concrete and fences. I had to scout for it.
Shooting there wasn’t pleasant. It was hot and rarely do I shoot in such an uninspiring location. Editing was even more challenging than shooting. Things didn’t want to just work out. I really had to work for it to make the image pop. Once again, textures and overlays actually made it for me.