I still remember the first time that I traveled alone. I was in the final year of varsity while studying design. I phoned my mom and told her that I’m going to travel through Europe and meet up with some people as I go. Where most parents would have reacted with concern, wanting to see detailed itineraries and lists of everyone I’ll be meeting with (probably so that they can run background checks) my mom simply replied with ‘Go Girl, when do you leave?’
I’ve always been given freedom and independence, my parents have always let me follow my dreams (maybe they knew by then how stubborn I was and perhaps it was the path of least resistance) they let me make my own choices and my own mistakes, offering up advice along the way – always being there when I reached out, but never pushing me into a direction that they thought was best. More than that I think it instilled a confidence and openness in me to experience the world and follow my own path.
The freedom of being raised in such a way means that I know that whatever I do, whatever happens I’ll have support and not judgement. It allows me to go places, experience new things, learn and explore with contentment and curiosity vs hesitation and the need for affirmation.
I think this has extended in a large part to many aspects of my life. Travel is something that got it’s claws in early, from road trips with my family, to family holidays overseas (which I know I’m extremely privileged to have received) to my first solo trip through Europe after saving on the side throughout college. It was on this trip, somewhere amidst the streets of Catalunya late at night that I fell in-love with the city streets, that I fell in love with culture, with absorbing a city and everything in it, with attempting to capture some of what it makes me feel it in a frame.
Over the years I’ve adopted a mindset of travel, of following your heart and your gut, and sometimes (albeit blindly) doing things. Throwing myself into the unknown in the hopes that it all works out. Sometimes it does, and other time life has different plans, but either way it’s worth the risk and there’s immense excitement and beauty in that.
What I still learn everyday is that there are no certainties in our lives. Things can change in an instant. This one life that we have been given can be as exhilarating as often as it is cruel. Being perhaps more susceptible to the ups and downs than some has influenced the way that I see people, the way that interact with people whom I meet, and what I choose to photograph.
At the beginning of last year I went through a really rough patch in my life. I was sitting in my psychiatrists consulting room and he asked me what makes me happy. What makes me settle and grounds me when my mind spins out. We got onto the topic of photography and I explained to him the feeling that I get when I shoot. That I often see or seek the emotions in others that I’m currently struggling to deal with myself. We made the connection that photographing these moments help me in a sense to process similar feelings. The act of it grounds me in realising that I’m not singular in this life, nor in the feelings that I’m dealing with. That we are surrounded by emotions, love, pain, loss, laughter and irony and most of all, that we are surrounded by millions of other people experiencing these same things at the same time. That we may be alone amongst them, but not alone in what we are going through. I try to find comfort and some beauty in that.
No matter where I go, I attempt to go there with open eyes and an open heart.
I leave for the States in a couple of weeks for what would be my longest trip there. I’m going through moments of excitement mixed with anxiety, but I’m diving in. I’m diving in because life is short (cliché or not) but if there’s one thing that I have seen time and time again is how fleeting this all is. I travel for myself, I travel for my inherent need to be in motion. I travel not to run away or towards anything but to experience and process, to live, to see, and to feel, and through it all to click a shutter and perhaps one day better see myself.