One shot | Mark McGrory: ‘I carry my camera around with me like a talisman against anxiety’

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Selves-Portrait, 2017 © Mark McGrory

Glasgow-based library assistant and amateur photographer Mark McGrory reveals the story behind his Selves-Portrait – touching on the impact photography has made on his anxiety

I’m 29 years old, and I make money – not very much of it – by working as a library assistant. I have too many hobbies and interests to list, but film photography is foremost among them these days.

I’ve been interested in photography for as long as I can remember, but I started taking it seriously around May 2017, when I realised that taking pictures could be a powerful antidote to anxiety. I’ve struggled with panic disorder on and off for a few years, but photography helped me get out of the house after a particularly rough patch, by giving me something to concentrate on other than my own discomfort. I carry my camera around with me like a talisman against anxiety.

‘photography helped me get out of the house
after a particularly rough patch’

This picture was taken inside of a Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirror Room art installation, on a recent trip to Copenhagen. It was an arresting space with mirrors on all sides, and lots of bulbs. I had my camera, so it seemed a perfect opportunity for a self-portrait, or ‘Selves-Portrait’, as I called it.

Only later did the photograph suggest a symbolic personal resonance. Selves-Portrait is a helpful reminder to me that even when anxiety gets really, really bad, it can still be overcome. It’s fitting that my girlfriend is also captured in the picture, since she has been integral to my recovery.

This year, I want to get the most out of my camera, which is a beautiful 1960s Rolleiflex. I was inspired to use it after seeing Vivian Maier’s street photography – she used the same camera. I’m planning to experiment with different types of film, and learn how to do long exposures. I’m eager to develop all my negatives at home too.

Find more of Mark’s photography on Instagram

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