Seven months ago I lost my dad to cancer. I’d had a while to try and prepare myself, to build emotional muscle for what we could see was probably coming. There were many reasons to be as strong as possible during it all, but of of course, the enormity of the change that came had a huge effect on me.
I made sure I did what everybody advised me to do – to allow myself to feel the things I needed to feel. Some days I was fine. Others not so much. One cold winter’s day, the sort when it never really gets light, I found myself starting to spiral rapidly downwards. Everything felt bleak.
Aimlessly driving around on country roads near my home, feeling like crying but oddly unable to, I had a random urge to visit a woodland I’d been meaning to explore for the previous few weeks. I pulled up and parked the car, automatically slinging my camera bag over my shoulder. Every so slowly, it started to snow.
Ten minutes later I was walking amongst one of the most beautiful ancient woodlands I’ve ever seen in Scotland. With hindsight, looking back on it after a few months, what happened for the next two hours is something of a surreal, blurred memory. I took out my camera and started shooting, in a way lacking in process or method that I can recognise. However silly it sounds, it feels like I entered an almost dream-like state.
I didn’t look at my images at the time. I spent the rest of the day, and most of the next day, hiding from the world in my bed. Two days later, however, I went back. And again a few days later. I couldn’t get the place out of my mind.
It took me a little while to realise, but in some way or another, letting myself loose in this wood with my camera was helping me to grieve. I’m still not really sure how it helped, or why, but it did. Perhaps it took me back to being 8 years old again, walking in the woods in Cambridgeshire with my dad as he taught me how to use a film SLR.
All the following images are taken from this woodland, over the space of a handful of days spread over several months. I’m not sure if they have any real photographic merit, but that it isn’t the point. It would be interesting to see what other people see in them, if anything.
Visiting the wood with my camera still helps me seven months on.