Inspired by her own journey into motherhood, photographer Camille Sanson’s solo exhibition ‘Absolution’ explores the mental health stigmas surrounding childbirth. This series of images was shot before, during and after her pregnancy, and is on display at Herrick Gallery, London until Sunday 4 February.
How has photography – and this exhibition especially – helped you cope with your own mental health issues around childbirth? Using photography as my medium to express my art has been a deeply cathartic experience within this exhibition especially. Through the process of coming up with the concepts, creating mood boards and writing about my journey of overcoming my subconscious fears surrounding childbirth and motherhood, I felt a deeper healing had taken place. I would share my experiences with my amazing model Gina (@ginaharrison), so she could bring the concepts into her poses and artistic translation. Through working in this honest way with Gina, we formed a close bond and friendship. I also felt ready to expose some deeply personal experiences within my work as a way of speaking to and encouraging others to go on their own journey of healing and self discovery.
Is this the first time photography has helped you with depression? Working on such a personal theme and collaborating in such an intimate supportive way with Gina made this project the most therapeutic to date, but in terms of my other photography work, I always feel a sense of happiness, euphoria and lightness when I’m shooting something I’m passionate about. I find it’s important to always have something creative to focus on or plan alongside the bread and butter work in order to keep that spark alive. That feeling you get when you create that magic shot is very addictive but good for the mind, body and soul.
What in particular was it about photography that helped? Perhaps the most helpful part was when I was photographing Gina, when we were able to go deeper into the story and concept and get lost in the moment of magic. But the process of communicating my issues to Gina about my mental health issues and subsequent spiritual and psychological journey of healing and liberation from fears was also so important and effecting.
Would you recommend photography as therapy? Yes, it’s a way for people to find a new way of looking at and interpreting the world and what may be happening in their lives, offering them a medium to express themselves creatively which can be highly therapeutic.
Any other important notes to mention about mental health and photography? Photography and mental health issues can also be at odds with each other, with images of oneself taken at times of suffering bringing up painful memories of those moments. Mental health can be a very difficult thing to represent within photography and within the exhibition The Mask (above) is the image I feel best represents my own struggles.
Absolution by Camille Sanson is on display at Herrick Gallery, 93 Piccadilly, Mayfair, London. Follow Camille on Instagram, @camille.sanson