I met with Claire Niesobecki about their new photobook called ‘Solace.’ Solace is a photo series following Claire’s close friend Tiffany and her daily life and battles with mental illness.
What was the inspiration behind the book?
In a class, learned about Sebastiao Salgado who documented groups of people and issues, but instead of the norm, he would spend time with the subjects and connect with them during the process. So I thought "I’m gonna text Tiffany, one of the best people I’ve ever met, just a fucking incredible person I’ve never met anyone like her. This is probably gonna be my thesis."
What got you into photography?
I grew up taking pictures on mom’s slide phone, I got first camera in 5th or 6th grade, it’s always been a huge part of my life.
What about photography do you enjoy most?
It’s calming, meditative in way, it’s a way to be by myself without feeling like I have to do anything and without getting bored, there’s so many possibilites. It’s a way to distance yourself from a subject without being fully removed. You don’t have to be fully involved.
How do you feel about combining discussion of mental illness with photography?
Well I’m a Psych minor, I want to do art therapy. This is a project about isolation and depression, and photography puts feelings about that into reality. Photography is really a way to work through what you’re feeling and create something from that.
What do you see for this book’s future?
I want to see it become something big. I want the book to be popular and to be read. But as of now, I’m not pushing that too hard. The finished project is gonna be a lot bigger, I’m gonna push that a lot more.”
What about this process was difficult for you?
This is not my first book and I like organizing things so that part of it was not difficult for me. It was frustrating to figure out order. I only had a day’s notice to finish and print it. I had to drive last minute to get Tiffany to look at every picture and transcribe from audio recording, then attach everything.
L: What do you want people to take away from this book?
It’s painfully mundane, but it sticks out and I want it to be a relatable thing. Especially at this age. It covers stuff that seemingly normal people go through and that isn’t ordinarily talked about, it’s nice to see things that are mundane sometimes. I want them to feel less alone. Also to recognize how amazing [Tiffany] is.
How would feel about doing a project like this again in the future?
I’m game, I’m vain so I like attention.
How did you choose what to capture?
I had over 7000 pictures. I had to go through all of them like ‘These are the ones that stick out’ and ‘These are the ones that I think are kinda better.’ It took a lot of organization.
How do you feel about current representation of mental illness in photography?
Photography is such a mundane medium for lack of a better word. It’s accessible to pretty much anyone. Current coverage of mental illness is very much the same, it’s hard to well and I don’t know if I did well.
Who is your general target audience for this book?
Anyone above the age of 16 is the target audience, probably people in the age demographic of late teens/early 20s. I want older people to understand these things more but its not for them.
Any last comments you want people to hear about your book?
I find Tiffany to be so incredibly unique and just an amazing amazing person, but I do recognize, bit I do realize that a a lot of what I find in her to be special isn’t that special. Also everyone is worth photographing.
“Buy my book”
Lexi is the Co-founder of The Weekly Cad.