Usually I show outtakes, but the Waiting… one is pretty much an outtake from my series Ulterior Monologue, so instead here is the chosen picture for that project and the accompanying hashtags.
So as I explained in my Animal Hats & Cramps post, there was a bit of an overlap between Waiting… and my previous project (Ulterior Monologue). Reading the hashtags for the top image too I realise that I talk about it a bit there too.
I announced my pregnancy on social media when I was 20 weeks and it was starting to become obvious in my dance videos/I got bored of hiding my bump under big jumpers. I definitely bought some time, but was relieved when my archive posts were over.
Anyways, I did a photoshoot around a dragon fruit and cutting my finger, and in the UM hashtags I talk about 3 bad/unlucky things that happened that day. This includes getting a bit of plate stuck in my finger which is why I have tissue wrapped around my finger, though I didn’t talk about my recent (increased) clumsiness.
I talk about how I think it was due to my mind being elsewhere, though it speaks about accidental knife cuts rather than the injury being from the plate splinter. (When I first started to write this post I also thought the need for a tissue was from a knife cut). I wrote the hashtags when I was preparing to post the project on Instagram and decided to add the photo in – I wanted to post them in chronological order so it made sense to decide early on if I wanted to include an image from this shoot.
I vaguely remember writing them as I wasn’t sure whether or not to use the term ‘baby brain’. I really don’t like it, though I think me being distracted by daydreaming about being pregnant and becoming a mother is what probably led to me getting the injury. I like to think that I was pretty ‘with it’ after this incident, so when on a few occasions people accused me of being baby brained when I wasn’t I was annoyed…
(Okay, yesterday I walked into the living room to get the dummy that Tiago asked for and walked back into the bedroom with a tube of nipple cream. In my defence I walked there – the whole 5m – wondering if I should put some nipple cream on… I think this says a lot about not getting enough sleep/being sleepy. If a guy does something forgetful after becoming a father is he accused of having baby brain? Probably not.)
I prefer the UM image more though it wasn’t a favourite and it wouldn’t have fit in Waiting… I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with the shoot, but I like playing around with hands and arms so it makes sense that I did something a little odd – the hand that isn’t holding the dragon fruit is definitely a bit weird. I think I took the Waiting one for myself as it has that pregnancy feel to it; a classic light touch to the belly, but nicely concealed. I definitely wouldn’t have put it in UM.
I could have perhaps been more inventive with the title of the Waiting image – (Dragon Fruit &) Cut To Finger (7 and a half weeks), whereas the UM one is Dragon Fruit & Cut To Finger. However I like that the similar titles tie the two images together as if you saw them side by side you wouldn’t necessarily think that they were from the same shoot – you’d probably just think ‘wow she’s clumsy’ if you knew that they were both pictures of me.
I think that’s about it.
I feel like talking about the whole project is a bit of an undertaking, but I’m determined to do it! 5 down, 79 to go!
My fear is that no one is reading these and I’m spending a lot of time/energy doing this blog, but I guess an audience doesn’t grow overnight.
I’m also awkward about promoting my posts across all my social media sites. The other week I wrote about how I would be better at promoting my work, but I still feel like I am bothering people. A lot of people use social media to promote their stuff and I’m sure there’s a good amount of people who don’t feel weird about it, and I don’t feel awkward for them so why do I for myself? That’s something that I can possibly post about more in the future…
This shoot is another classic example of knowing I wanted to photograph myself, but not having an idea in mind. First I took the first outtake (where I am stood to the side) and other pictures where I am stood to the front, then I did the chosen pictures.
I felt awkward about taking them then as I knew it was too early in the project for pictures like this, but my body was already feeling quite different to me and I wanted to document it. Looking at them now (and many other pictures where I thought I was starting to look pregnant) there really is nothing to see. So with the hashtags I wanted to shut down any comments about it by basically saying ‘yeah I know’.
The shoot then moved on and got a bit more posey.
In the chosen pictures it is a ‘breathe in, breathe out’ duo, though they pretty much look the same.
I used this ‘strategy’ before in my project Sofa Studies (see below), but that was more about social media and ‘perfection’, and how people breathe in a lot in their photos.
My boobs went up two cup sizes pretty quickly in the pregnancy, which was a bit weird though they had grown a lot since high school anyways. They’ve possibly grown again and I don’t hate them as that seems counterproductive, but it’s just odd seeing myself with bigger ones.
Can you tell I’m trying to avoid saying boobs 100 more times again? It’s weird having a project that talks about them a lot, but I guess I probably speak about them more in my motherhood project as with breastfeeding/bottle feeding expressed milk, a lot of the day is focused around my boobs and what they’re doing/producing…
Like I’ve said before I’m not going to be 100% awkward about it (talking about them) as my boobs are finally fulfilling the purpose that I have them for. The pictures that involve them aren’t meant to be sexual and instead are just documenting my changing body, but people will interpret them how they want. I’ve already been called a MILF on YouTube (I have a channel where I’ve been dancing – in an unsexy way – since 2013) and that makes me feel really gross. I am guessing it’s a joke I still feel bleh about it. That’s probably a post for another time…
The hashtags about boobs looking weird as hell on me still stand. I wear dresses and skirts, but I don’t consider myself to be very feminine or at least in the commercial sense/way that used to be pushed on us via the media. I bought some makeup a few weeks ago, as I haven’t worn it in a long time and that’s because I worry that by doing self-portraits people think I am super vain. So my thinking was that if I didn’t look after my appearance then people would think this less. With having a baby and because of the current global situation I’m not sure when I’ll be dressing up next though…
I also like to be invisible when I’m out and about, so by looking ‘bad’ I hope that people won’t look at me twice. Writing this it makes me feel vain as if I’m saying that if I made an effort with my appearance then I’d look amazing and people would look at me/throw comments my way. My thoughts and actions surrounding my appearance is something I need to think about more/explore within a project… But yeah I don’t think I’ll be wearing push up bras and putting ‘the twins’ on display anytime soon. Well I probably am displaying them more for baby feeding reasons, but that’s only been indoors so far.
The breasts vs boobs hashtag also still stands. I probably should use breasts as it’s more mature, but apparently I do prefer just saying boobs. It just seems more casual?
And finally the hashtags that talk about how I’ll feel post-birth about my body… I made a comment to Tiago this morning about the skin on my belly being a bit looser, but it’s not ‘as bad’ as I thought it would be and I’ve done 2 minutes of core exercise since giving birth. I was probably the fittest I’ve ever been when I was pregnant as I was doing exercise videos in the morning and evening, and then having a daily walk. At the moment I’m focused on making sure I go for a walk every day, but I need to make time for more stretching. The more you stretch, the more you realise you need to.
Final thoughts about the chosen images: They show nothing, but also a lot when you look at the series as a whole. It seems awkward to show them, but it’s nice to see my bump growing and without pictures like these there would be a noticeable gap in the project. That’s my interpretation anyways.
I feel like the running theme of this blog series is ‘maybe I chose the wrong photo?’ When is it too late to change the selected image? Is it ever too late? I guess it depends on where the photo has been. For me it doesn’t feel too late yet as most of my images have only appeared on my Instagram account and who said ‘what is posted on Instagram is set in stone’? No one as far as I’m aware.
I want to produce a book of this project so I guess it is good that I am revisiting each image and outtakes to have a think about if I did make the right decisions or not.
I chose the photographs based on how I felt at the time, but with the passing of time comes different responses to the images. Maybe I need to value what I thought when I was choosing, though at this point in the project I was not editing the pictures on the same day or same week as they were taken. I kept shooting and hashtagging, and I didn’t really look at them properly for a few months – there is a picture in the project that talks about finally getting round to editing the project. I realised what a mammoth task I was leaving for myself, so I spent some time editing it down (which is what I’m doing now with my new project and is why this post is a day later than I planned). After that I tried to edit the pictures down quite quickly, so I had space on my computer and so I wasn’t left feeling overwhelmed at a later stage with a baby in my arms.
Anyways, in these images I am ‘wearing’ a scarf instead of clothes. I can’t remember making that decision – I really need to start keeping a shoot diary – but I am guessing that it was because I worry about wearing the same clothes in all my photographs. I say this and some of my clothes have been in quite a few projects.
I had started to wear the scarf out around that time as it gets very windy in Liverpool, so it was probably lying around the flat when I was thinking about what to wear. I did do a project where I wore towels, so it’s not that odd really.
I guess with the chosen image I wanted something that wasn’t that flattering, due to the topic. In the outtakes I look a bit more ‘put together’, whereas in the chosen one with the way I am touching my chin and with my general expression you can tell things are a little off. At this point I wasn’t actually being sick, but the feelings were sufficiently unpleasant.
The meat/fish cravings were odd and I never had them again. I’ve been vegetarian since I was 15 (I’m 31 now), so it was quite bizarre though the fake fish burger seemed to do the trick. I haven’t eaten another one, but the burger place has only just reopened after being closed due to Covid. (A fun fact for you there – you’re welcome!) Maybe my body just needed a bit of protein and after this episode I did make an effort to eat more protein.
I’d forgotten that I mentioned an ex-boyfriend in the hashtags. The same moment came into my head last night when I started to put this post together and I thought about writing about it, but I already had. However I do now remember feeling awkward when I posted it to Instagram.
Why the need to write about it? I’m not entirely sure, but my work is therapeutic for me and has helped me work on various things like my confidence. It started to decrease when my family moved when I was 7 (to about half an hour away which isn’t much at all) and then it got destroyed in high school. In college I let my barriers down and cried a lot so my art teacher recommended that I go to counselling. I cried through all my BA assessments, so dating someone who did nothing for my confidence probably wasn’t the best idea but I also felt like that was what I deserved and I would never find someone else. Writing this whilst being married to a great guy, and with our month+ old baby lying beside me I’m starting to feel a bit emotional.
Breaking up with someone/being broken up with is always weird as you don’t know what will happen in your future. It’s nice when you can look back and be glad it happened as it led you to being with someone else (who hopefully really suits you) or maybe you’re just really enjoying being single.
I haven’t spoken to this ex in over 10 years and I doubt he will read it. If he does then I’m sure he will admit that he wasn’t the kindest person. I think he had underlying issues that he needed to sort out, and I genuinely hope he has.
Another moment that I am sharing because I just find it so bad that it is funny is that when we were out at clubs (can not remember the last time I was in a club), girls would come up to him and tell him that I was so ugly and that he should be with them and not me. He would tell me with a massive grin on his face and not say anything to comfort me/make me feel better about the situation.
A couple of other things: He was embarrassed about me meeting his family because I was vegan. I stopped being vegan (for myself after 4+ years as I didn’t want to be vegan anymore) and broke up with him a week later. I never met his family. Also, he told me if I cut my hair short he would break up with me.
When I finally broke up with him (and cut my hair shorter) people around me would tell me how much they didn’t like him, but they were worried it would push me towards him more if they told me how they felt. True, I am stubborn but in this case I was just unable to realise how badly he was treating me. I felt like I deserved it/I would rather be with him feeling bad about myself than single.
If you recognise your partner in what you read above, then know you deserve to be with someone better. You deserve more.
As always my blog post turned out differently to what I thought it would be, but I’m enjoying the journey and hopefully this may help someone who needs to hear it right now/when they read this post.
After all this sidetracking and distraction though I think I did choose the right image. The other possibility would have been the last outtake, but even with whole projects based around nudity you may be surprised to know how awkward I feel about nudity in my work. It’s something that I feel deserves its own post rather than a paragraph at the end of a long post that has already taken an unexpected turn, so I’ll put that on my list for a later date!
It’s on the list under ‘nudity/censorship/awkwardness’.
One last note: Though my work is usually about me, I have always hoped that other people would find something helpful in what I do. I guess with this blog I can go into more detail and write about things that have led me to making the work that I make. I have always worried that people find me narcissistic and vain, though my reasons for making my work are from feeling the complete opposite. Sharing this blog now feels really awkward, but I really hope it might help someone, either with a situation they are going through now or to help process something in their past. Some parts I have rewritten over and over again during the day, but I need to just let it go and live with it.
Something that I have been saying a lot lately is that when someone is mean to you, it says a lot more about them than it does about you. And this goes for how I have acted towards people as well. I am happy to admit that I am not ‘perfect’ – whatever that is – but I want to work on becoming a better person for myself and my family. Asking yourself why you do things and react the way you do – and really listening to yourself and the answers – is a good place to start.
Who would have thought a blog post about morning sickness could get so deep?
With shoots I end up taking a lot of images and with most of them it’s difficult to edit them down as the differences are so subtle. In the beginning I take a lot of pictures to make sure that I am in the right position – as central as possible as I am usually central-ish in my images. Then once I find something I do a lot of little variations and take enough to make sure that I ‘have the shot’. Now I’m debating if this is better than the one I chose but I think looking off makes me look a bit more thoughtful whereas this seems more confrontational? Maybe I’m talking rubbish. I can’t believe my hair used to be this long…
The whole project is full of belly shots and I think I realised how ridiculous a shot like this would be in the beginning, though does it really matter? No. Even though I have done nude projects I do feel awkward about sitting around in my pants for shoots, though less so after having 6 people at the birth of my child, and having my boobs prodded and poked by lots of women whilst trying to breastfeed in hospital.
This seems a bit too adventurous and belly squashing for a pregnancy picture. Even though it took about 9 months for me to get pregnant I then was doing lots of stupid things like falling over for a video repeatedly as I think I could not believe I was pregnant. Perhaps I knew I would not be able to do these more flexible poses for much longer which is why I milked it as much as possible with this shoot.
A big secret (that isn’t so secret and especially not now) about how I shoot for my self-portrait projects – generally I have no idea what I am going to do for a shoot.
With this shoot I had no clue and looking back for outtakes I can see that, though the theme seemed to be that pink top that my younger sister gave me and being sat on the floor.
I play around and then when I find something that I like I ‘riff on it’ – yeah like a musician or something.
In 2010 after my BA I was shortlisted to take a portrait for the National Museum Wales and National Portrait Gallery. I travelled from Birmingham to Cardiff for the interview and proudly talked about how I don’t plan shoots and you could just see in their faces how disapproving they were, yet I kept going on. The thing is at university me and my friend Sarah (who started and runs We Are Hairy People) did fashion shoots all the time when we were in the mood and we generally had no plan; we were always winging it. I’d photograph and she would model. We would just pull random clothes from our wardrobes and mess about with usually quite good results. I feel the need to pull a photo out, so let me have a look…
Here are a few pictures from 2010.
I feel like this post is going a long way away from where it was supposed to be. I’ve talked a lot about how random and made up my shoots are, but then again with my pregnancy project there have been shoots where I knew what I wanted to show.
Don’t be fooled (especially if you want to hire me and now are thinking I’m too risky – come back!) I guess I do plan things to an extent… now I think I am just saying this so you hire me.
No, what I mean to say is I have planned shoots more so with this project. For example: I had a blood test, I want to show that etc. I guess there was a reason why I did improv comedy in London, as much as sometimes I lack confidence I like just seeing what happens and what I come up with.
I did mention in my interview that when I do plan shoots I never like the images, but I guess they provide a starting point.
With shoots if you don’t try then you don’t get – if I don’t do a shoot then I have no pictures to possibly like or dislike. If I do then I might have a shot that I can use or at least have an idea for something to recreate. With this project I took poses/shots that I liked and recreated them later on, especially if one was good but I felt like another one was better. Though towards the end of the project I got more indecisive and often chose two images from shoots – perhaps because I was running out of time to photograph myself pregnant.
Anyways, some of the hashtags are kind of similar to the first image from the series. I had planned for this to be the first image, but I then remembered that I had done the previous shoot and wrote hashtags for it. It was hard knowing what to write for the first one as a lot of it had already been said here. There was a noticeable difference within myself though, especially with feelings of morning sickness beginning to start. I had forgotten that I got food aversions that early.
Everyone always asks about cravings, though I had never really heard about food aversions. I seemed to hate everything I had ever loved – I was really upset about not being able to eat my favourite lunch that I had been eating for YEARS. At one point I could only eat pasta and vegetables for dinner, as everything else made me feel sick. Luckily I could start to eat different things just as the Great Pasta Shortage of 2020 rolled in, otherwise that would have been a very grim time…
It was hard to imagine myself ever being pregnant, let alone imagining myself pregnant during a pandemic, but I guess that’s something I’ll talk about again and again during these posts…
I hope that the project is of interest to people and that it may be helpful in some way – particularly to those who may be pregnant or someone whose partner/close friend/family member is pregnant.
As it will take me some time to post them all, if you wish to read ahead you can see the project on my Instagram account, though at the time of writing this I still have 16 images left to post from the project.
This is the first image from the series.
A couple of outtakes
I’m currently writing this with my newborn daughter (well she is a few weeks old now, when does a newborn stop being a newborn?) lying asleep on me, as represented by the picture above that I took with my phone that then got glitched by Photoshop.
In these pictures I am in shock at being pregnant, whereas now a few weeks into motherhood I am still a bit in shock that I am a mother. Writing a tweet yesterday that started with ‘Had to register my daughter for the doctors’ just felt bizarre…
Anyways, I took a pregnancy test whilst visiting family for a weekend and was not home until the next day. I did the shoot, but then didn’t look at the images for a while which explains not writing the hashtags at the time.
When I found out I was pregnant I was finishing off my project Ulterior Monologue, which was about wanting to be pregnant but not feeling able to talk about it. This was when I first started to do these hashtag diary entries, but with Ulterior Monologue I wasn’t always as honest as I wanted to be because of the awkwardness I felt around talking about wanting to be pregnant – which is where the project title comes from. I felt awkward as we had not been trying that long (it took about 9 months in the end to get pregnant and the doctors say it usually happens by the end of 2 years), but it was the only thing I could think about. We had just moved to Liverpool and I didn’t really know anyone and felt a bit lost. I was also trying to get over the stress of living in London and ended up signing for an online CBT course in anxiety not long before I found out I was pregnant.
With announcing that I was trying to get pregnant I felt like people’s comments would just annoy me and I knew people who had been trying for a long time to get pregnant, and I did not want to upset anyone. I was also worried about not getting offered jobs/being overlooked for work if people knew that I was trying to get pregnant, as they might have assumed that I soon would be.
I did do a couple of shoots after knowing I was pregnant that are part of that Ulterior Monologue; I guess because I knew I wouldn’t be sharing my news anytime soon and so I wanted to have work to post in the meantime. I ended up announcing my pregnancy (on social media anyways) when I was around 20 weeks pregnant and at the point where I felt like I wasn’t cursing myself by saying it out loud to a ‘crowd’. Until then I posted all my self-portraiture projects and video works on Instagram – I have a lot so it definitely passed the time, but I was so fed up of doing it by the end.
The hashtags mention wearing the same dress as an image from Ulterior Monologue which is called It Seems Like Everyone Is Pregnant Except Me. I don’t think I did this intentionally (like the hashtags say), but it’s a nice coincidence. It Seems Like…‘s hashtags talked the most about wanting to be pregnant, but still downplayed it.
The next picture I took for Waiting For Things… was when I was 6 weeks pregnant and after that I really started to document myself – usually at least twice a week. I think being in disbelief and expecting something bad to happen was also a factor in the gap between the first and second images.