Last week I photographed the very unkempt insides of my home.
My house is a tip (and not in a shabby chic kind of way). There is zero style, anywhere. Almost all the furniture was donated, and we are in the middle of a ‘redecoration period’ that has been going on for 18 months. In which time, we have painted some walls and replaced one carpet.
On a practical level I don’t really mind (well, the grotty carpet is beginning to get to me), but at the same time, it's becoming clearer to me that there is no homely love.
And the more I thought about that, the more I think:
A. That’s a shame. It’s my bloody house. I’ve lived here for almost 2 years!
B. Maybe I want to do something about that.
But rather than waiting to suddenly become interested (which, let’s face it, isn’t going to happen), I wondered if I could nurture that feeling instead.
The best way I can think of to develop an interest in something is to study it, with love and attention. So, on a Friday morning, I decided to photograph the various angles and objects of my home that happened to catch my eye. I didn’t know what I’d be doing with these images, other than share them in a story somehow.
What I learned in those four hours is as follows:
Cliché ahoy: Beauty is what you make of it. Objectively my house is pretty ugly. It’s a mess and has lots of crap lying about the place. But, I can take my camera and selectively frame something in a way that suddenly makes it more interesting than it was before. And, I can apply filters and make it all moody and mysterious looking ;)
If you find it interesting, it’s suddenly much easier to see why everyone else should find it interesting. There were reasons why I chose to take pictures of what I did. From the terrible impression that the front door gives high minded society; to the box of paraphernalia that’s been sitting on a windowsill for longer than I can remember (I hazarded a guess at six months, but it could be a year); to the fact that the only mirror in our house hangs directly over the toilet…. that’s what makes the house a home: its quirks, imperfections, and the stories of why things are the way they are. Once I saw all this, it was so much easier to write about my home and actually want to share it with others.
Own brief projects are the best. There’s just something lovely and unexpectedly powerful that comes from the experience of making something for no purpose other than to stretch yourself and enjoy the process. In the morning I reminded myself of the brief: take photos and make a story. I just want to enjoy myself, not take it all too seriously, and make something at the end of it. It doesn’t matter so much what the finished outcome is; I just want to experiment, have fun, and learn along the way. Looking back at this brief, I was actually pretty intentional about it. But not too precious, if you get what I mean. That’s how I’d like to approach my creative work in future.
Accept that work doesn’t always have to feel like work. It took me four hours to go round my house, take photos, edit them, and string them into a story. Because this is in no way part of my day job, it did not feel like work. At 3pm I had a minor tizzy about feeling like I hadn’t done any work that day. By the end of the weekend I’d grown my Instagram following by 10% (turns out people like to see the inside of other people’s ‘ordinary’ homes). Now, I’m not saying that the primary objective of making that story was to enhance my Instagram profile; but turns out it was a solid ‘return on investment’, if you want to think of it that way. The biggest takeaway for me was how much I learned about taking photos and making a story, but on this particular occasion, there was demonstrable audience appreciation (which I admit, made me feel all gooey inside).
There’s a reason my house is untidy; and in my opinion, it’s for the BEST reason. I got other shit to do. Like writing this blog, or painting some abstract landscapes, or spending the weekend in a campervan in the middle of the Scottish Highlands with my fabulous boyfriend who wants to run up hills all the time. We choose to spend our time on things other than the household chores. And I’m okay with that. I accept the tradeoffs.
Did I already know all this? Yeah, pretty much. But that’s the thing about navigating life with the brain you’ve been given: we forget this stuff all the time. And often, the only way to remember all this stuff is to experience it all over again. Keep practising; your home, and your story, is a work in progress.
You can see the full story as a Highlight on Instagram.