Tiffany-Maree Hodgson is an Australian-born portrait and fashion photographer. This series, Living With Barbara, is about her recovery.
Suffering from depression from a young age, Tiffany’s childhood wasn’t exactly easy. A chaotic home life and neglectful parents led her into a spiral of sadness and difficulties.
Tiffany explained to Lemon, that “the hardest part about growing up depressed, is that it becomes your identity.”
She used to believe there was a feeling of support knowing that her depression was a constant in her life. A comfort.
“Little did I know; the comfort was actually fear. I was so used to the darkness, that I’d forgotten what the light looked like.”
Living with Barbara is a series which showcases Tiffany’s journey. It’s about the process of learning to live alongside her depression, rather than letting it hold her back. It’s about learning to use her despondency as a driving force for change.
“I gave myself permission to face the sun, and bask in the warmth of happiness.”
Shot in Kalbarri in Western Australia, the series took a lot of effort: “The chair had its own seat on the bus, and came hiking with us to find the best locations.”
Okay, so… why the name? Tiffany was chatting with her peers about what to title the series: “I joked, after a few too many drinks that – as the chair was called Barbara – it was so symbolic to link my depression to the chair.”
The chair was greeted by everyone who came across it, after the shoot: “hey Barbara!”
Tiffany has always been fascinated by photography, spending hours looking through old photos and doing ‘photo shoots’ in her back garden or nearby park with her mates.
She said: “I’ve never really thought about photography as a career until I decided that I didn’t want to go to school anymore.”
She was told she could leave high-school by her parents and started taking college classes instead.
“I had no idea what to study, and I loved taking pictures for Instagram, so I thought: why not study photography?”
Her passion grew from there. She works mostly digitally but has dabbled with film and cyanotype processes.
As a creative, she had to develop a tough skin pretty quickly.
We asked her what advice she has: “Ask people what they think and take it on board. Try to see everything objectively.
“Take the same shot five times.” This, she said, forces your brain to be more creative – even when it’s not feeling like it (which happens to everyone).
“Be wacky, some of my best shots are!”
Good photography doesn’t require a fancy camera, or expensive equipment: “I still use my grandad’s old DSLR,” Tiffany says.
“It’s shocking! But a good photographer can capture brilliant images on any old thing.”
At the minute, Tiffany is finishing up her final year, where the Living with Barbara exhibition is being displayed as part of her graduate work, “Illumina.”
So, what’s next?
“Well, I’ve got some exciting stuff planned for the next year, but the truth is, I have no idea what I’m doing! I eventually want to work full-time from a home studio.
“I love the idea of creating my own space, that is filled with love, warmth, and colour.”
Tiffany feels the most creative when her space is the right space.
Working more editorially is on the agenda, as well as working for high-fashion labels: “That would be really cool.”
“I’m working on some cool stuff that people will be able to see next year, so… keep an eye out.”
The hardest part about growing up depressed is that it becomes part of your identity.
“There’s a sense of comfort in my sadness, and a feeling of support in knowing that – no matter what changes – my depression will always be there.
“Little did I know, that I can live alongside my depression without letting it stop me from ever being happy.
“I don’t have to be miserable just because of my depression, I can use it as a tool to live my best life. This series is about my growth as I learn to stand on my own two feet, and face the sun, after eight years of darkness.”