“Insula is a highly personal project documenting my decade long struggle with a chronic mental health condition.”
Daniel Regan (born in 1985) is a contemporary photographer currently based in London, UK.
He completed a BA in Photography at University of Brighton in 2006. He also has an MA in Photography, 2013. For Daniel Regan photography encapsulates many things. He states: “It has also saved my life in times of great suffering as a tool for expression.”
Daniel Regan often focuses on themes of recovery, psychology and mental health. He is also an accomplished portrait photographer.
He has recently turned his project “Insula” into a photography book. In this interview he shares his experiences of publishing his work for the first time in this way.
What’s “Insula” about and why did you decide to turn your project into a book?
Insula is a highly personal project documenting my decade long struggle with a chronic mental health condition. The photographs are an observation of the cyclical notion of recovery, taking the viewer on an emotional journey through darkness to hope and vice versa.
The decision to produce Insula as a book was mostly informed by the way in which I wanted people to view these images. The photographs can be highly emotive and I think they’re bested viewed alone, over time, and having them within a book gives the viewer the time to watch the story of chaos unfold.
Can you please share your experiences of publishing a book and explain the different stages, editing etc.?
The most difficult part for me was the actual editing process. Since the images from Insula span over ten years I had thousands of images to select from. I was very lucky to have an excellent tutor as a part of my MA (at London College of Communication) who helped me distil the images down. There are a lot of images that I would have liked to put in the book but ultimately they are too personal, or too straightforward.
“The book can seem chaotic in its order but the order is actually based on cycles of recovery.”
The images selected have a clear sense of anonymity and I think that’s been an important part of enabling me to share my story, by not having it so explicitly linked to my identity. These images are representative of many people’s experiences with mental health difficulties.
Once the initial edit was completed I looked at ordering the images. The book can seem chaotic in its order but the order is actually based on cycles of recovery.
What was important to you regarding the design, print/paper etc. of the book?
It was really important for me to have elements of control over the book. I self-published Insula and looked at a few ways of producing it (Blurb etc). In the end I felt that since I had the technical skills to lay it out myself I’d just design it and work with printers to produce it exactly how I wanted in terms of size and paper. It’s definitely a lot tougher, but the overall result is that you get the product that you envisioned, and that’s something that I found wasn’t possible for me with a self-publishing platform.
What about funding of a book project?
The printing of the book was self-funded. However, I covered costs by taking pre-orders of the book.
In your case, photography has a therapeutic meaning. Why?
“We all have secrets and photography allows me to invite the viewer in whilst keeping the true secret my own.”
Photography for me enables me to say the things I need to say without really saying them at all. The medium’s ability to allow for ambiguity is what fascinates me. A lot of the time I am making work, first and foremost, for myself. But the way in which I photograph later allows me to share the work without feeling that I’ve shared too much of myself. We all have secrets and photography allows me to invite the viewer in whilst keeping the true secret my own.
What intrigues you about taking on sensitive subject matters in your photography?
I think that there are always matters that need to be dealt with, explored, and resolved, and for me that can be done through photography. Personally I am interested in stories, emotions, psychology and I think that photography is an excellent way to tease out our hidden insecurities and feelings, in a safe way.
A copy of the photography book Insula can be ordered on the artist’s internet site at www.danielregan.com/shop/insula