A conversation with my inner self about my recent photography adventures and how I needed to disconnect with the world.
Being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018 aged 44 hit me very hard, it’s left me battered and bruised physically and mentally. Id go as far to say the mental scars have been the most diﬃcult. It wasn’t until after my radiotherapy that I was able to go on holiday. It’s taken the whole of 2019 to build up my strength to travel, visit my fav wild areas. My hair has started growing back after losing my long locks from the red devil himself AKA doxorubicin (a chemotherapy ingredient). Still very conscious about my hair, preferring to wear a hat if I can get away with it. Hair envy is deﬃnatly a thing!
Didn’t matter what I looked like on the outside or what my Husband assured me, it was all about how I felt on the inside, almost like what I felt on the inside is what I looked like on the outside if that makes sense?
We planned an extended road trip from our home in the far north of Scotland to the southern tip of England in the county of Cornwall. Spent an enjoyable week in the Snowdonia National Park in Wales. Mountains will always be part of me the world over, however it was too busy from what I’m use to. Having to share my personal space with others, something I prefer not, although the photographers I met were extremely friendly and I enjoyed the bannter. One photographer with a lovely Sony A7R iv made me laugh when I really shouldn’t have, you know when you get the giggles at the wrong time? He was saying “how typical that the water was so rippled when he’s seen many images on social media of this location with silky smooth water, how annoying it’s never like that for him”. I looked at another photographer I’d been chatting to, we couldn’t keep our faces straight. We politely explained it’s down to long exposure.
We’d planned on visiting south Wales, Devon and Cornwall for photography and meeting friends/family. However, only made it to middle England, hundreds of miles from Cornwall. The busier the traﬃc and population increased my anxiety matched it. I was feeling lost, didn’t recognise myself, felt a freak, afraid, stressed, claustrophobic, panic, the need to escape and runaway. Everyone was staring at me or at least in my head. Really needed the “hell outta this place”. But what about my friends and family I was suppose to visit? Something I’ve been looking forward to. How could I do a runner, how rude? I reminisce on the past twenty months, the biggest lesson was “do what makes you happy “. That was it, decision made, returning north. I felt the need to cut myself off from the world for a while. I craved the feeling of being lost in the landscape being so far away from it all that nothing else matters, not a care in the world, no worries or stress. A place to reﬂect my own thoughts. This crazy world we all live in gets too noisy, we need
time out just being quiet, calm your senses.
Caught the night ferry to Brodick on the lovely Isle of Arran off the west coast of Scotland. I was actually able to lower my shoulders and breathe. We toured the island for a few days but still didn’t feel myself and quite guarded. It was time to move on, caught another ferry to a different part of mainland Scotland on the Kintyre peninsula. From there we travelled north to my beloved Glencoe. Now, I was really starting to relax, the weather gods were on my side and such a great time of year having the place virtually to ourselves. Glen Etive in all its magniﬁcent glory, stags roaming down the middle of the road. From there we headed further north through the mountains of Kintail to the Isle of Skye. The weather did not disappoint, managed to get a few milky ways, such amazing compositions and sky quality. I know this island like the back of my hand, having spent the past thirty years visiting at least once a year. However, I felt the need to take it one step further.
Ok, so what happens next? Yup another ferry, almost 2 hrs west to a group of islands called the Outer Hebrides. As soon as the ferry set sail from Uig I felt the darkness within vacate. One thing which hit me on arrival was the amazing huge sky. No interruptions, miles and miles of beautiful warm coloured skies. Instead of feeling dark I would go chase some light which gave me mental freedom and a sense of calmness. A place I could truly get a away from society, off the beaten tracks. Literally pressing the pause button and breathe for a few minutes, it will never fail to ﬁll your heart. Wandering on the white powder beaches with my looney dogs racing in and out of the cold aquamarine sea. Island life set me free, allowed me to feel the wind in my hair, gave me time to reconnect with nature, almost like I became part of the landscape itself, emotions straight from the heart. The weather is bracing which gave me good reason to wear my hat and I didn’t look out of place. It felt raw, real, free spirited and extremely inspiring from the land, sky and sea. Free as a bird, I was now starting to channel my personal feelings through my camera, either mobile phone or DSLR. Island life is slow, takes a few days to adjust and learn to love this new lifestyle. One of the reasons you can’t help but fall in love with these new lands. People have time for each other, driving along the locals will wave to you, be sure to wave back. This year I’ve spent eight weeks in the Outer Hebrides, it’s been my absolute sanctuary and a huge role in my recovery.
Other days were spent watching waves crashing over my camera, was an endless job of shoot and wipe…Great fun though and certainly put my Haida ﬁlters through their paces which never failed to let me down with the ultra thin NanoPro coating it was very easy to wipe. Having spent time on several Caribbean islands often twice a year in a different life many years ago where I escaped the madness from my crazy mixed up life, where I would go to rebalance.. I found the Hebrides very similar emotions from the beaches and lifestyle.. Freedom to be whoever you want, not a care in the world, feeling the sea breeze on your face providing the ability to mentally set you free. Not being judged, no stares or looking you up and down as if judging what designer label your wearing or rather not. How well groomed you look. No makeup, simply me being me. The sea washed over the sand leaving it all pristine and clean, like it did for my unbalanced head and emotions.. Cleaned my soul and black thoughts. I was falling in love with this wild corner of Scotland with its energetic seascapes and remote mountains. Literally making me feel alive. Sat in the sea with camera and tripod in December doesn’t sound too appealing but I have to tell you how empowering it feels. Photography is an extremely powerful tool to heal and express yourself. Open your eyes. Discover the solitude and silence it brings, nature will soothe your soul. Don’t make any plans, go with the ﬂow and let the universe lead you as more times out of ten plans never work out. Immerse yourself in the beauty of the moment.
All images taken with Samsung Galaxy 9 plus.
“All rights reserved” © Jenny Cameron 2020