Re-imaging the Everyday: a photo essay

Sumaya attempts to capture moments of positivity she deems worthy of appreciation, explaining the compulsion behind the shots and the thoughts they evoke for her

I sometimes forget that lenses are detachable. Not just in the literal, technical sense – but in an analogical, pretentious one: our own lenses, or our own perspectives, can affect how we see things. It may be a little difficult getting used to switching your lens at first – aligning the lens and camera body so precisely that they can click into place with ease – but I do believe we get to choose the lenses we allow our visions to be altered by. In an effort to see things in a brighter light, I strolled through the beautiful streets of Bristol with a newly attached lens of positivity (lmao ew can you even handle the cheese), eager to capture instances that accompanied deeper meanings (at least for myself), and contemplated lessons to remember as well as things and people to be grateful for.

Monochrome Companionship

Image c/o Sumaya Hassan-Murphy

I was the slightest bit hesitant to take this shot. I was like ‘Hmm, is this really what the people want? Pigeons?’ I was a little put off by the absence of vibrancy, but endeared by the idea of companionship. It got me thinking about the importance of human connection and how most living things crave camaraderie – inclusive of pigeons. Even in situations where the company is cold and lacking in colour, too many people are willing to accept it out of fear of having no one. These lil’ guys and their dull surroundings provoked gratitude for all of the colourful relationships in my life.

The Key is Compassion

Image c/o Sumaya Hassan-Murphy

I always adore it when people leave cute lil’ messages out and about. They may be small gestures but they can make all the difference. With the padlocks in the background, I couldn’t help trying to make a cringey link to all we can unlock though love by through being compassionate to others and ourselves.

This sticker of reassurance also got me thinking about doubt and insecurities. For a lot of people, these usually relate to appearance. I considered all the things I dislike about myself – things that I know I would be able to love and celebrate on any other individual. I’m working super hard on having nothing but love to give anyone, including myself, and I think the world would be a much lovelier place if people worried more about whether or not they were a good person rather than how they’re perceived externally.

Against the Odds

Image c/o Sumaya Hassan-Murphy

I’m proud of these guys. They’ve found a way to grow on the walls of the harbourside in spite of all the environmental factors stacked against them. They remind me that there are ‘no losses, only lessons’ and that as irritating as it can be to sugar-coat hardships and obstacles, we do undeniably grow in spite of them. They urge me to remember just how consistently hard our bodies are working to keep us alive and breathing – big ups!

I’ve also sat by the harbourside many-a-time and had the most pointless, to the most meaningful conversations with the loveliest of people. I’m proud of us too. For all that we’ve overcome – for the determination and perseverance we continually demonstrate.

Busy Bee in the City

Image c/o Sumaya Hassan-Murphy

I recently interviewed a guy about moving from London to Bristol. He admitted that although it’s been heavenly, Bristol’s not an easy city. There’s a lot of struggle, but that for all of the suffering, there’s an admirable amount of people willing to show kindness and generosity and offer a helping hand. He acknowledged how, although there’s not a lot of money to go around, people are still hustling – keeping themselves occupied and afloat. This lil’ bee, working away in an overwhelming, busy town centre, reminded me of his observations and made me incredibly thankful for community. Shout out to all the actual busy bees being super cool, doing their thing, and all the metaphorical human busy bees, who opt for compassion and are doing a lot better than they take the time to give themselves credit for.

Stages of Bloom

Image c/o Sumaya Hassan-Murphy

I was captivated by the beauty of these flowers at different stages of bloom. We are these flowers (lmao). It’s the easiest thing to compare where we’re at on our own journeys with those around us – to feel discouraged by neighbouring flowers that just seem to be growing so much faster and blooming so much bigger. As aesthetically pleasing as the tallest, biggest flower is – I’m equally endeared by the adorable lil’ stumpy ones. I wouldn’t say any of these flowers are better or worse than one another – simply different. I think it’s important to remember that the same goes for all of us.

I personally believe we’re all exactly at the stages we’re supposed to be at and on trajectories we’re meant for. I feel it’s important to surround ourselves with like-minded people who want to nurture our growth (and vice versa), so we can grow together, all happy and chill.

Rainbow Sun and Leafy Fun

Image c/o Sumaya Hassan-Murphy

I find a lot of comfort and safety in nature – a total sucker for a canopy of leaves. My mumma and I frequently go to Leigh Woods to do some weak cardio and appreciate the gorgeous surroundings. They have this one swing there that I insist on utilising every time we go past it – though I’m often salty if it’s pre-occupied by some kiddos who are supposedly more ‘age appropriate’ for the fun it offers. This shot transports me to that swing as well as all the lovely and funny memories that have accompanied it. I’m immeasurably grateful to have such an amazing mother, and to live in such a beautiful, scenic city.

Photography is a fairly accessible practice. Whether you can get your hands on a DSLR, smartphone, or disposable camera, I think grabbing one and capturing the little things you wish you took more time to appreciate could be super therapeutic – I definitely encourage anyone to give it a try!

Be sure to keep up with Rife on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!

Support more young people to have their voices heard

Rife is Watershed‘s online magazine created for young people, by young people.

We offer paid internships and publish work by young writers, photographers, illustrators, and filmmakers from all sorts of backgrounds, helping them get into creative careers. Rife has reached over 8,000 young people through our workshops, over 220 young people have made stuff for Rife on topics ranging from mental health to identity to baked beans, and last year, over 200,000 people visited our website.

In these complex and uncertain times hearing from and supporting young people who are advocating for social change and contributing fresh perspectives has never been so important. 

Through supporting Rife you can ensure that this important work continues and that more young people have their voices heard.