A new year always brings new things. New challenges, new goals, new rewards, new sorrows. 2016 started with more sorrow than anything I could have imagined. My father unexpectedly passed away at the beginning of January 2016. Coming from a very close and loving family, it’s been nothing short of a nightmare for me. However, times of sorrow and grief always show you how much support and love surrounds you. I have felt so loved from so many people. I know that this year is going to be hard, but I know that I will be okay.
I decided to use my grief to create something. I shot a self portrait for each month of the year. This self portrait had to describe the month and my feelings during that time. It gave me a chance to experiment and practice different techniques that I normally wouldn’t have the chance to.
Here is 2016, in a series of self portraits.
“I decided that I am going to have a different New Years resolution for 2016. For every month, I am going to shoot a self portrait. It will give me a chance to experiment, learn, and express my feelings through my favorite medium: photography. #RGCselfseries
Here’s January. Here comes the sun.“
“This month has had many emotions: Success, rejection, love, despair, happiness, sadness, anger, numbness, the overwhelming feeling of uncertainty in my future after graduation. Yet, despite these many feelings, I leave February with positivity. Looking forward, not knowing what lies ahead, but knowing I have the strength to trust that everything will work out. February. #RGCselfseries”
“This month can be described in one way: a completely chaotic blur. So many decisions made, so many deadline filled nights, so little sleep. March. #RGCselfseries”
“I don’t know what to say about April other than I can’t believe that it’s over. These past four years have been life changing, and for all of the people I’ve encountered during this time, good or bad, I thank you. You’ve made me happy, strong, and who I am today. Ball State now has 2 generation of Giese Alumni. Here’s to a university that claims I’m smart enough to adult, and here’s to April. #RGCselfseries”
“I feel like May is a kind of a filler month. It’s the month that school finishes up, but summer isn’t officially in full swing yet. In the process of graduating, packing, moving out of Muncie, starting work, and apartment hunting, everything has been topsy-turvy and hanging in mid-air. May: Upside down and waiting for summer sunshine. #RGCselfseries”
“I’m going to be honest; this month has been hard. I’ll feel happy and strong one second, then all of a sudden sad and distant. And I’m terrible at communicating that. Grieving is different for every person. “The most colorful thing in the world is black and white, it contains all colors and at the same time excludes all.” It captures all emotions. June. #RGCselfseries”
“So, this is my month. I am always both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how this could be. I can’t believe how quickly life moves and changes. I must accept the things I cannot change, not worry what others think, and move forward with a strong heart. July. I will live free and make the best out of everything. #RGCselfseries”
“I feel like August was a lot of reflection and change. I turned 23. I started life in a new city. And you know what? You may think I have it all together, but I’m just winging it. I have no freaking clue how everything’s going to end up, and I’m okay with that. I just keep looking in the mirror and working to become who I want to see in that reflection. Be able to look at yourself and be proud of what you see and what you’ve accomplished so far. Be strong in what you want to accomplish one day. Goodbye, August! I wonder how much will change until we meet again. #RGCselfseries”
“This month I’ve honestly been full of worry. Worrying about bills, job security, paychecks, saving money, planning for the future. Then I remembered: I finally moved to Nashville. Anyone who knows me knows that I wanted to move here, and I did it. Right now is the time to worry less about the future and enjoy the present and live. Everything will fall into place. September: Enjoying the present while it lasts. #RGCselfseries”
“So I will admit, I’ve had this portrait since the end of October. It was just hard to share because this one feels more personal than the others. October was full of raw, conflicting emotions. Ups and downs. Not wanting to get out of bed most days. Taking these portraits makes me think about what I need to do to keep moving forward in life, and sometimes it’s hard to face your emotions like that. Light cannot exist without darkness, and there are ups and downs in everyone’s lives. One must always remember to look for the light in these dark places. October. #RGCselfseries”
“All through November, I felt myself getting really irritated and frustrated with everything. I don’t know if it was the thought of the holidays without my dad, being broke, or the cold approaching. Heck, maybe it’s everything. Either way, I’m trying to work through it. I’m trying to release the frustration, the raw emotion of grief and life, and keep looking forward to tomorrow. November. #RGCselfseries”
“It was hard to finish this series. In a way, it was knowing that 2016 was over, and accepting that 2017 would be the first full year that my dad wouldn’t be here for. I’ve learned so much this year. December had it’s frustrations, but it’s over and behind me. The whole month I honestly kept thinking “Stay golden, Ponyboy.” Looking from my first portrait to this one, hope has been the common theme in each picture. January started off down and dark; but december will end hopeful and bright. 2016 has showed me that no matter what happens each month and day, be hopeful that it’s going to be okay. Be positive. You cannot change your past, but you can accept it and control your future. 2016: it’s been one heck of a ride, but I cannot say that I’m sad to see you go. Hello 2017, I’m excited to see what you’ve got planned. #RGCselfseries“