There is a part of this project for anyone who has a hunger for growth, expansion, and nourishment of the soul and spirit.
The opportunity to be a more consciously chosen version of ourselves is hidden in plain sight at every moment. What can it mean, to curate the self? It means we can build ourselves anew—we can alter who and what we contribute to existence by shedding aspects of our self that do not serve us & others, and by exercising new muscles to strengthen aspects that nourish, fulfill and uplift. You have to want your own change—for yourself, for the people you care about, for your community, for your contribution to this life... you pick the reason. Recognize your power to affect the world around you and then be hungry for the care of that affect. That is the driving force behind this project and anyone with that hunger can grow their own part.
The project is ever-changing and still rather young. The first iterations of it have been tests by gracious friends; gratitude to Sam and Lorraine! Now I am gearing up for the next depths. I want this project to be more than a photoshoot that you reflect on the images from. I want this project to build relationships with those photographed. I want you to return to view yourself in the future, again and again.
The soul project was born from the power of my own experience in viewing photographs of myself vulnerably created through the lens of another photographer—Kyla Fear. There was a glaring theme running through the whole set of images when I got them back, beautiful as they were, and it slapped me right in the face. It was: “Wow, oh my gosh, I’m in so much pain.” To me, the sentiment was palpable through the images. I could see it in the protectiveness towards my body, my face's expressions and way I frequently hid my face—Pain, and the attempt to release it. I did not want to live forever as a vessel for old pain. I’d known I contained it, been working on slackening it for many years, but I’d never seen the physical manifestations so plainly, like the word was stretched across my skin. And so if I could view it then I could acknowledge it. And if I could acknowledge it that meant maybe it could be made tangible, real—not an unconscious program running in the background but conscious, awakened, alive... changeable. I could change something I could see.
The change came slowly at first and a new practice formed, one that incorporated viewing myself through photographs with a dialogue with myself and a dialogue with others—because self change, growth and expansion can be done alone, but when we commune with and support one another we can amplify the process. The “project” that was me working on my own soul and spirit soon formed a toolbox filling with tools and blueprints that my peers asked to use for their own self work... some stellar, courageous peers to ask to partake! And each person that reaches out is a peer. I too am merely a peer: student and teacher all at once, and this is what part of a soul project is—it’s the toolbox of one of your peers, and if you’re fixing up your house, your vessel, your vehicle for its travels through life, the world inside this project has strong tools to build yourself with.
A photographic session and the prompts I pose are the tools—the dialogue you create and expand upon surrounding what you see and discover in yourself is what you make with those tools.
This project is not for everyone, but I repeat, it is for anyone—And anyone can go and make their own project or write their own plays (in fact you have some of your own, and through dialogue we’ll undoubtedly swap!)—And as this project was created as self-mentorship it is undoubtedly meant to hand the reins off to the participant to self-mentor; but even I had a spirit-guide of sorts for this exercise: the photographer that captured each consecutive image of me, handing me the blueprints for my tool-making. I worked with a number of photographers after my time with Kyla, looking through the windows of their unique perspective of my soul and spirit, but a second session with Kyla six months later is where I saw the shift in my self. When the photographer wasn’t variable, I could then see my change—subtle, tentative, potent. That troubled self was still around, but the feel of the shoot as a whole had shifted. Where there had been little trace of warmth before there were now smiles. Something was working. I was shedding, strengthening. What could our next shoot look like? Kyla, I'll be back, again and again.
The future of the project looks like that: if we photograph together, if we conjure dialogue about your reflections, if you let this project guide you in any way towards self-change, I hope you return and we do it all again so you may see the fruits of your labor of self-love. It is radical, but also it isn’t. It may not be for you, but if it is, if you feel a tug towards your part of a soul project... reach out.