Depression in black and white

The Book: project inspired by The Fault in Our Stars

I was recently set a project from an online photography course I’m doing. The brief was to create a three photos inspired by a book given to me. I had no choice in the book and was duly handed the Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Luckily for me, I had already read the book some months previous and really enjoyed it. To say that I found this book emotional is an understatement! I have never had so many tears roll down my face.

In essence, the book is a tragic love story about terminally ill teenagers. There is death. There is love. There is cancer and an adventure to Amsterdam. It’s not all doom and gloom though. There are some lighter moments in the book, I promise. By the end, I thought of the characters as friends and the ending devastated me. It’s not a book I’d normally read, nor the subject matter something I would tackle in photography but it certainly made me think.

The book is packed with lots of quotes which helped me decide how I was going approach the photos. I pulled out three of my favourites and created an image to represent each one.

Do let me know what you think in the comment section below.


‘Depression is not a side effect of cancer. Depression is a side effect of dying.’


‘It’s a metaphor, see: you put the killing thing between your teeth but you don’t give it the power to do it’s killing.’


‘I’m on a rollercoaster that only goes up, friend.’


And the winner is…

Last month I was gently persuaded to enter‘s shooting challenge and tick off one of my new year photography resolutions. Guess what? I won!

The brief: Our mission, if you chose to accept it, is to shoot your own ‘selfie’ against a streetscape (ie. not in front of the bathroom mirror) in the style of Lee Friedlander’s 1960s collection.

Armed with my Canon G12 (no – it’s not a gun), I went in search of some streetscape selfies:


Shadow of Sarah Rajaballe
ISO 400, f/4.5, 1/1600
It was beautiful outside – Putney was thawing out from the recent snow and it was a sunny, blue sky day. However, today (21 Jan) is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year. I, like thousands of others up and down the country, have started off 2013 without a job and the snow is supposed to be responsible for a third dip in the recession. Whether this is true or not, I have no idea. All I know is that staff from HMV are at risk of losing their jobs, which is going to add to the otherwise pressured job search. If I don’t get something soon, then I’m going to have to wave London goodbye.
The impossible dream
Picture of a shadow in some bushes
The impossible dream
 ISO 400, f8.0, 1/800

One day I would like to own my own house, but living in London, this is impossible. I stumbled across this house, which is set next to a park, while walking along the river.

The winning image: Empty on the inside

self portrait of Sarah Rajabalee in a glass window
Empty on the inside

ISO 400, f4.5, 1/100
The high street is fast becoming a ghost street with big names such as Jessops and Comet disappearing and now HMV going into administration. What will happen to these empty premises? With such big companies going, does this mean that smaller, independent shops will rise to take their place. Or will everything go digital? I also took this photo with staff who have lost their jobs in mind. It’s not a good feeling to have.

This challenge made me think about the deeper meaning of my photos. I shoot what I see, to capture the moment. Of course, I ask myself if it would make a decent photo and think of the visual impact, but I don’t really think of anything deeper than that. Here I had to think of a narrative which ended up being a story through the three pictures.

I’ve never won any photography challenges before, so I was pretty chuffed with this especially as it challenged my way of thinking.