Full disclosure: I didn’t plan for this photo series to be an article on here.
But when I was constructing this photo series, it was an experience that propelled me into rare moments of clarity and realisation.
This project was actually an assignment I had to do as part of the photography course I’ve been doing in 2019. Part of that assignment was a “Personal Expression” series, where I could literally do anything thematically and stylistically.
For my series, I embraced “Personal Expression” in every sense of the phrase. I’ve always been quite expressive both in personality and prose, so I guess it comes as no surprise to anyone that I’ve kept a daily journal since I was a teenager.
So I started reading past entries in the hope of getting some kind of inspiration for the photo series. To say it was a confronting experience is an understatement.
It’s difficult to explain the myriad of feelings I felt as I read them.
There were definitely a lot of cringe moments – the emo phase, the ten-step Korean skincare obsession phase to when I thought that wearing a Naruto headband was fashionably chic.
But all in all, there was a lot of sadness, anguish and empathy scattered throughout those pages when it came to the more harrowing experiences.
As I read those entries, I had to pause from the intensity.
As I read those entries, it was like I was reliving all those painful experiences once again.
This all sparked the idea of battle scars – that is, the labels and experiences that have been placed on us, without our consent, but have shaped our lives significantly.
In my case, it was past experiences and labels of homophobia, identity issues, racism and xenophobia.
Indeed, these weren’t experiences that I could prepare for. Often, they simply happened when I least expected it. And just like a physical scar you might get in battle, they may heal over time, but they never leave you completely.
To bring this series to life, I picked out recurring labels or phrases in my journal entries and stuck them on my body to symbolise those “battle scars”.
If you’re technically wondering, I shot this through timer mode, shutter release remote, and jumping in the shot as I posed.
The narrative of this photo series is me going about a normal morning routine. As I do this, I’m wearing these battle scars stuck all over my body – constant reminders of the experiences, but also a reminder of how much I have been through yet still stand here today.
By creating this series, I hoped to convey the message that we all live with battle scars of some kind. This is inevitable.
But, we all have a choice. That choice is either live in shame with our scars or welcome it with open arms by taking it in stride.
So take a look below and I hope you like the series – especially those close to me who have constantly been nagging to see the photos.
Also a special thanks to one of my best friends, Paula, for lending me her apartment for the day and leaving me to my devices so that I may shoot to my heart’s content.