I've just been through a hard drive to delete stuff I don't need anymore. There are still a heap of photos I took during a time when I was struggling. I haven't deleted all of them yet, as they are connected to my writing (inspired by my experiences, trying to communicate what bipolar disorder with post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD are like).
I find a photo diary to be helpful for my creative process. At times in my life, I will take a lot of photos, of things that other people ignore (or don't even notice). At the time, they had significance to me, of something I was processing (grief, trauma) or linked to themes of things felt inspired to create (also processing).
When my mood has been elevated (bipolar disorder) and I've been processing a lot of stuff (PTSD, grief), my mind has raced very fast. Listening to music and taking photos have helped to calm my racing mind. I go into kind of a meditative trance-like state. I also paint in that state, which expresses without the distress and high anxiety.
Here are just a handful of photos from thousands I took over a few months, six years ago. I also took mood selfies. The more elevated my mood, the more pics I take, partly because my short-term memory becomes worse than ever, with my mind racing so fast (despite sedation from medications).
I will forget most of the photos, but I don't really forget the most significant ones, linked to themes I am writing about. I can always go back and look, which helps me to piece together what was going on, to write about it. I put together the same triggers I had, simpify them, then turn them into my stories.
These are some of the pics that stood out when I skimmed through the thousands of photos. The glass from the picture frame has faces etched in it, only seen in certain lights. A sign my late Dad wrote (leaving me a note!). Some symbolic objects made into a huge photo still life that went out the door (my Dad wasn't impressed!).
Taking photos of lights and reflections was a recurring theme.
Some photos were optical effects with the Sun (the gallery has cropped them differently to how I took them). There is metaphor and symbolism behind all the pics I took.
I took photos of significant stages of process art and what they meant. The journals and most of the process art eventually are destroyed but I still have some photos to remind me of things that I temporarily forget again. In a nutshell, it's transforming grief and trauma into creative purpose.
This was the finished piece, Rainbow Pi from a Black Whole. It had multiple layers, then was repurposed into other process artworks. Rainbow Pi was the main artwork that helped me to organise my themes and storyline for writing Pet Purpose: Your Unspoken Voice (which focuses on what bipolar mania is like and that it wasn't meaningless).
Do you keep a photo diary too? I use my camera when I am feeling more creative. My phone when I want to capture a moment. Eventually, I delete what I don't need anymore, like decluttering my mind.
Disclaimer: the author of this blog is not an expert by profession and her opinions should not be taken as expert advice.