I contemplated warily at six am, how I would release this session. Being immersed in a thoughtful state since my stroke, I find myself consuming media at a slower pace and ingesting it far more personally than I have in the past. For example, falling asleep to Suicide Squad, one of my self proclaimed "comfort movies" not only says a lot about my state of mind, but it spawns the most terrifying night terrors. Even in those moments, I pause. Jasemine Denise Photography transitioning from years of representing artists who later on bullied their photographer into losing her home.. To her venturing into fine art photography, something she'd always dreamt she'd have the depths of expressionism to do.
With that being said, I've done a lot of personal projects over the years. Fashion photography was always some sort of staple.. Now, the elements of everything from light manipulation, double exposure, the literal technical essence of each photograph taken has become less shallow.
Funeral : Shadow Work
Jasemine Denise Photography (2022) first shot of session, 10m: meta description thoughts: (12hrs):
double exposed portrait photography depicting deep rest from a state of royalty.
Would you believe me if I told you shadow work was a spiritual concept that eventually metastasizes as it's own element of knowledge? It challenges you to reach into the depths of yourself and really evaluate who you are and what you represent? This set had four different concepts and it essentially boiled down to, "How will I receive my own work?" We're trapped in a society of NFTs, celebrity drama and meta descriptions. People two decades under me have built mansions upon concepts derived from notions built from a state of social prowess.
I find myself shocked that it's harder for me to describe my own vulnerable work than it is to make an Instagram Reel parodying my mental state since my release from the hospital. "Laugh with me, not at me--" I chant silently as I press send on a video where I poke fun of my own inability to properly annunciate the words Jasemine Denise Photography, a challenge that spawned from hitting the floor of a store in the neighborhood I eventually would be pushed out of by a landlord who felt my mental health post hospitalization was more dramatic than honest... A sentiment echoed by people I'd spent hours upon hours driving through rainstorms to sit next to, to grow with.. To help evolve.
So I settle into a state of study, finding myself scouring my mind for fluent words just to describe portraits.. Realizing I no longer feel connected to the moniker Queen, something I got tattooed on my right arm, beneath a portrait of my late father... The tattoo is perfect, yet I realized the other day.. It has one tiny flaw.. My father had dreads, albeit they were very short at the time the photo was taken.. A small detail I'd never ventured to see.. because I was in fact not present the day of his wedding, something I belligerently wrote into an entire fictional portrayal of in The Twisted Trilogy, a novel I was struggling to conclude pre-stroke.
When Did Jasemine Denise Photography become so dark?
💛 before I fell asleep, I heard the loud scream of a little girl that made my heart hammer. I drifted off wondering if it was an echo in a chamber of my younger self.. an old client of mine shared with me an article about a pagent queen who has been laid to rest who felt overworked and spent eight days in the hospital trying to recover which led to her releasing a grim depiction of her own impending death I’ve yet to take the time out to read. Burnout is so much deeper than just not having the energy to go to work, especially for creatives.
Lately, things have been insufferable. I’d like to consider myself transitioning into fine art photography but realizing the depths of expressionism in todays culture loosely translates to “this person is unhinged.” I mean, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't among the millions watching the Kanye situation closely. As it transpires, I realize that the world is glorifying his mental breakdown as a means of escapism to allude to entertainment, instead of recognizing the weight of his words. Here is a family, very publicly tracked by their every individual movement, and while the legalities of what is actually taking place, people are throwing "shade" at him for not knowing how to properly handle the mother of his kids and his separation. I relate to that sentiment and each time I see another "meme," I become more aware of my own emotional disconnect with my family and how the separation between my father and mother not only made me the 'black sheep of the family,' it also created a disconnect in my life.. On pleasant days, I consider myself my father's child.. On others, when my mother and I speak about topics my father can't be here to confirm or deny, I am my grandmother's child.. (another soul passed before I was even born.) My mother would praise me for my "model faces", because they mirrored her own mother, while others would say "Jasemine, make a new face." I essentially became determined to take photos so my mother could always see her first husband and her mother.. but I would hide from myself in my most shameful times, because all I could see was either of them.. Disappointed. Something like that isn't talked about openly, and instead of that being the topic of the controversy going on between Ye, Kim (and I'll say it, Pete.), not very many mothers and fathers are talking to their kids about this.
I mean, would it have changed much of anything? Is it telling that all of my artistic heroes are gone on into another universe ruled by God, Allah, Ganesh.. or whatever religion you pray to?
This Has Already Gone On Too Long, that I Imagine No one has really read down this far...
I can't end this without the reason that I feel this reflection started... It wasn't just to say "Oooo, look at my work." I wanna be proud that I had the patience to sit and twist my hair into bantu knots, despite my arms being exhausted from the strain, but as I was twisting and coiling.. my mind settled on a thought.
I always take time to express my gratitude for the late artist Mac Miller. Recently, (perhaps before the stroke, I fear I may never know), a remastered version of the mixtape “Faces” was released and this morning I sat and really listened to the track Funeral. While most would label it a cry for help, I felt the depths of expressionism— these are the things I fear when I wonder what morality matches up with on my last days. That’s how I interpreted it. I love that art can be interpreted anyway. As we venture into Black History (Future) Month, I’ve had extensive conversations in Uber rides to job interviews about the state of black mental health and while it’s been sad, it’s been eye opening to know generations of black hard working leaders have been where I am currently without anyone batting an eyelash.
Decades of artists have been swimming through darkness trying to find light, and looking to celebrities to lead them without realizing that we are all human, and while we don't wanna admit it.. Not all of our bodies are simply storing matter (or lack thereof.) Everything we've consumed, especially in the time of this pandemic has attributed to our genetic being, whether it was the book you re-read, or the affirmation you wrote for yourself. It does take its toll on you, especially if you have found a sense of spirituality since the coming of multiple lockdowns.
I want you if you did take the time to read this far, to know that I'm not necessarily okay. You may not be either. Somewhere your screams of agony for not fitting in and the bullying you may have faced is echoing in the chambers of artists' heart and they are trying to create for you... To you.. because believe it or not, they hear your cries. I hear you cries. Quite literally.
You hear this all the time, but maybe if you really sat down and read this post in its entirety, you need to hear it again. You are so much more than you think. You are every open letter, and every unopened one too. You're every poem that you've accidentally thought of and laughed out loud at in a crowded room. You are a mountain of emotions, a vessel of emotions that while only temporary-- can consume you. You don't have to experience that alone.
Darkness only lasts so long. Today is on a long list of last days of your life. So make that elaborate bucket list. Then make a very realistic one too. When they say, "take some time out for yourself," what they really mean is it's okay to think freely. The internet is full of free thinkers, who don't divulge the darkest hours of their life. You don't have to live in the shadows. You are light.
If you ever need an extra reminder, here's my Twitter, my Instagram, and my heart filled with words. I met one of my very strongest friends who opened his journey to me before my stroke and was the first to really see me at my worst and say, You're too strong to let it end this way. I met him in my Twitter DMs, (I didn't even know how to check those, true story!) and it was because of how open I was, that he essentially became family when my own family abandoned me for fear I would never recover. You never know when you're going to get the message that changes your life. Don't ever be afraid to reach out to me.
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