RUBY BERRY of Lost Art Photography is a self-taught film photographer based in the US. Her work in film photography began seven years ago when she tried (unsuccessfully) to load film into a Pentax K1000 she found in the attic. A year and countless internet searches later, she built her own home darkroom.
While she is primarily a medium and large format portrait photographer, Ruby has also been working in alternative process and emulsion manipulation for the last several years.
In addition to shooting film, she also works to promote film photography as an Executive Editor and Curator for the Film Shooters Collective and as an editor and contributor to She Shoots Film, a group dedicated to promoting the film photography of women. She currently lives in the mountains of Appalachia with her three fierce children and Taco Bananas the Dog.
Grief is an ocean inside you. Sorrow, anger, fear, and anxiety come in waves so big you don’t think there is any way you can possibly hold them in. And even when things are relatively calm, that ocean is still there. You carry the weight of it with you wherever you go and whatever you do.
Eventually, when circumstances settle into a new normal, the grief simply blends into your internal landscape. It is still there, but now it is just a piece of you and your past. You will still be pulled by the waves on occasion (usually when least expecting them), but the grief no longer overwhelms you. It is no longer an ocean you cannot contain.
Gratitude is also an ocean.
I have spent several years photographing people. Trying my best to truly see them and to capture that true self on film. I would always say “everybody deserves to be seen,” but always secretly felt that this did not apply to me. Not that I necessarily did not deserve to be seen, but more that I didn’t want to be seen. Or couldn’t or shouldn’t be seen. Sometimes it was imposter syndrome. Other times it was a desire to keep people from seeing the hard and sad and ugly parts of me and my life. But always, I just preferred to be both literally and metaphorically behind the camera.
What I did not know was that when I was taking photographs and seeing my subjects, they were also seeing me. That when I was getting them to show me who they are, I was also letting them see me.
I realized this when I first began to think about what I would write for this piece. I was and am still filled with an ocean of gratitude for all the people who got me through this year. So many people who in so many ways picked me back up and helped me keep going. People who saw me, even though I didn’t think I could be seen. I wanted to write about them. I fantasized about buying a camper and driving around making portraits of all the people who reached out and helped. All the people who made me cry from happiness. All of the people who saw me and, in a thousand different ways, saved me.
And that is when I realized that I had previously photographed several of them. In many cases, taking those images had often been the beginning of a friendship, or a step to becoming closer.
Because the ocean of gratitude can also be overwhelming. You don’t want to contain it. You want to let it out. You want so badly for people to know how much their kindness mattered. That their words and support and help were the light that kept you going. That you knew you would be okay because of them.
So to all of you who have been a light to someone when they desperately needed it, thank you.
And don’t be surprised if someday you see an old camper pull up outside of your home. Because we all deserve to be seen.
Thank you for seeing me.
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See you soon.