FFO: DREAM-LIKE FINE ART INSPIRED SURREALISTIC PHOTOGRAPHY – EXPLORING AND INTERPRETING DIFFERENT MENTAL STATES TO HELP FIGHT THE STIGMA!
Who are you and where are you currently based?
I’m Jodie Beardmore and I’m from Dewsbury.
How would you describe Dewsbury as a place to live? How’s the photography scene there?
Dewsbury in itself isn’t the most exciting place to live but the surrounding cities and towns have started to become really inspiring. Leeds is a fantastic place for independent artists and it has some wonderful photography bookstores and art galleries. Huddersfield, where I study my degree has just started to catch up with Leeds and is starting to have its very own photographic scene.
What is your current photographic work about?
My current photographic work is based upon my personal diagnosis of depression. My work is set in a world bordering between dream and nightmare, similar to what you would experience when you are mentally ill. The imagery follows a narrative of my recovery, caught between the world of the imagination and reality.
Do you see photography as a useful self help tool to help with your recovery?
Definitely, even now it helps me deal with some complex emotions.
Is there a particular process you adopt to create these images?
I tend to be influenced by my surroundings and how I’m feeling in the present moment. I build my own props for the shoots, source costumes; at times they’ll literally be old wedding dresses from charity shops that I’ll manipulate. I’ll conduct a location scout and figure out where I’m going to shoot, what lighting I’ll use. Then once I feel prepared I’ll go out and photograph.
Has there ever been situations in which you’ve found it too difficult to photograph your battle with depression? What moral/ethical considerations have you made as part of this project, if any?
I started this project when I was suffering with major depression, they’d be times when the context of the shoot was too personal and I’d find it too hard to shoot it. However since I’ve learnt to deal with these feelings, I find shoots a lot easier.
I’ve stayed away from the typical cliché expectations of someone who suffers from depression, presenting myself as someone with a troubled yet wonderful mind, which the viewer can visit in the ‘worlds’ I have created. I feel by doing so, I am assisting in fighting the stigma of mental illness.
Would you ever want to exhibit this work or make a publication from the series? Or is it too personal of a project? Do you feel comfortable showing people these images?
Making a photo book for this series is my final goal. I feel very comfortable showing people these images; I think it gets people talking about mental health, which is incredibly important. Since I’ve become more open about myself I’ve felt a lot happier and to have people come up to you and tell you you’re inspiring is an amazing feeling.
What got you interested in photography and taking images?
I’ve always had an interest in the arts but when I was ten years old I got to assist on a fashion photo-shoot and I knew after that, it was something I wanted to pursue further.
How come you got the opportunity to help assist on a fashion shoot at such a young age?
I was helping my uncle, who was doing some gardening at a manor house. One of the owners of the home was conducting a fashion photo-shoot for a new range of clothing she was launching. The photographer asked me if I wanted to assist, it had such an impact on me that I knew it was something I wanted to pursue.
Who are you inspired by?
What inspires you about the photographers you’ve listed above?
Brooke Shaden inspires me in how she creates the extraordinary from the ordinary. Just recently she did a photo-shoot in a kid’s swimming pool, which she filled with petals, and then through postproduction turned it into this beautiful lake. She actively promotes passion in her followers and encourages everyone to create. I admire how she sees inspiration in the ordinary.
Tim Walker’s use of props, staging and setup just amazes me every time I look at it. It would be a dream come true to create work like that full time.
Francesca Woodman was a photographer who sadly wasn’t appreciated during her time and committed suicide at such a young age. Her use of herself within a space has been an influence throughout my own project, as well as her combination of presenting the disturbing with the beautiful, shown in her imagery.
What are your future aspirations?
I aspire to devote some part of my life to art therapy and explore how photography can be used holistically. I would also love the opportunity to curate within a gallery space and at some point go into teaching.
What advice would you recommend to young photographers today?
Be yourself. It sounds like such simple advice but people will make you question your own work and you may want to either change it or succumb to photographing what everyone else does. The differences in your work in comparison to someone else’s are so important and they help you to stand out. Take criticism but don’t be put down by it. Keep moving forward, better yourself, take lots of risks and challenge yourself. If you don’t feel comfortable using studio lighting use it, if you’re worried an idea might not work out, try it. Ask lots of questions even if you’re scared of what the answer might be. Always be proud of what you have achieved so far.