In Memory of Joseph Andrews: "Something Purple"

Updated: Jun 19, 2021

Something Purple ;

I’ve been on this adventure for roughly twenty four years now, running through the trees and hills of the forest known as life. Through the paths I’ve found myself on, I have faced storms of depression, and anxiety. These storms come and go, some creep up and trickle down through the treetops; others shook the roots underneath my feet. When I was five, I was given my first camera and sent back into the woods to capture what came before my lens. I still have this camera today, it rests along the others I’ve collected and each represents a different part of the adventure in my life.

I first encountered my first storm of depression in middle school, I had not yet accepted who I was, and grew up in a religious, conservitive household that deemed the arts as a joke. Nonetheless, I continued on through the woods capturing what I saw. I had no idea people wanted to see my work, I merely found it as an escape from the storms brewing over me, when I would take photos, the clouds could part and shine through the trees. I could find my peace and in the moment, things were calm. My art teacher found my photo and asked to submit it to a local art show, where I ended up winning first place. This was the first time I had found reward in capturing my adventure. It created a new path for the coming years where I would run full speed down, embracing art as therapy for my mental health.

My path led me to a cross country trip in a 1973 beetle in the summer of ‘15. My camera and playlist of my favorite songs sat beside me on this journey, photographing something in all of the states I would stop in. This led to the beginning of finding my roots for photography. I could tell stories with my photos, and express what I saw or felt in these moments. I didn’t yet know how to vocalize how I felt with my depression, but I could say a thousand words in my sets of photos. I stuck mainly to photographing the nature around me. The waters called to me for peace, and the woods called to me for adventure. Between the two, I felt connected and was able to process my feelings. Photography gave me something I was searching for; a purpose.

My reckoning with depression came face to face in 2016, when I was awoken in the night with news that my mother had been struggling with her depression. She is my inspiration for creativity and light, and her path became too overgrown with the thorns of depression. During her time in finding her new path, she offered advice through my journey and it has stuck with me since then; “When all else fails, look for something purple.” This would become paramount in my adventures to follow. In 2018, I had found my path through the woods had reached an impasse. The weeks to follow, I didn’t capture anything. I was broken, lost, and felt the thunder of this storm shake my core.

I called upon my best friend, and asked if I could venture out into the city with him to take photos, changing scenery and hoping to push myself onto a new path. That day created a new journey for me, one that would lead me to creating an idea, a source of light, and a new beginning. It was the light after the storm had passed. I knew that photography was my calling, and knew that when I create art, it helps me feel valued, this was my sense of “something purple.” I had found a way to truly connect art as therapy for my mental health. To this day, it’s created such a sense of joy I want to share it with the world.

In our journey through the woods, we will all face obstacles, thorns, branches, paths covered by new struggles. When you reach those moments where your path feels impassable, look for something purple, and capture it. My journey into photography has led me to creating a small business, a blog, friendships, and a voice. I was able to journey down many new paths after that one day with my best friend. I believed in my ability to capture a moment, and it created more.

I’m still new to this path in my woods, but when I create, I work to capture a moment of light in whatever is in front of me. Photography helped save me from losing my way. To others on this similar path: know in this moment that you are creating your own path; your own adventure, and your new beginning. This is your time to shine and I am rooting for you. Keep going, be the light for yourself if moments are clouded. Keep capturing, keep creating, do not give up, the world needs more creativity and you are a part of it. I share all of this in hopes that it might inspire someone, my creativity and path is dedicated to those who struggle, to those who create without knowing where this path is going. If my work can serve as a light, my journey is being fulfilled and my heart is full. I want to capture all emotions that the adventurers in this world show, but my favorite one to capture is the feeling of hope.

Hope is the feeling of not knowing which direction to go, but continuing to move forward knowing there is a purpose to be achieved. Hope has led me to be where I am today. Hope is a feeling my best friend had when he pulled up that morning after. Hope is the first step towards your new path. Your journey isn’t over yet, have hope, have that light, and if all else fails, look for something purple. Thank you for being you. Thank you for creating.

IG: @j.layneee

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