Category Archives: modern life

Death, dying and bereavement

via The Reality is…

A conceptual photography blog by Samantha Devine Photography. It shines a light on the narratives found in death dying and bereavement.



Rainy Days & Mondays

Growing up my mum used to sing Karen Carpenter around the house. She had other repertoire but Rainy Days and Mondays was regularly on the playlist. Singing was a regular way of her going about her business.

Often my brother, sister and I would join in at some point unaware of this special therapy. Still today I can’t hear many songs from that time without thinking of Mum and her housework karaoke.

My mum had us quite young, but even so there is a generational difference when it comes to vocalising issues that trouble us. My generation and younger appears to be more vocal in our unhappiness. I am sure that is not entirely a bad thing, this blog itself is a form of that vocalisation after all.

Is it possible that talking about what troubles us could well become like the four yorkshire men sketch Monty Python.  I think there is potential for forgetting many wonderful things in our lives focussing too much on the bleak.

A ray of light in dark times will also be to think about the silver linings, counting blessings, as well as offering empathy a friend would ask positive open questions. These things  might help keep the balance. Don’t get me wrong I don’t think it is about denying the bad things happen but having realistic positivity at the same time. Sometimes there really is no room for positivity, and that is ok too.

As I go silently this next few days I will try harder to keep a balance. As Karen Carpenter sings, we’ve been here before and we will be here again!


Land Of Ice & Fire – Iceland

I just returned from Iceland.

Sunrise in winter is after 11am. Most of the daylight is dusk and dawn – days are golden rather than hours. Iceland is extremely quiet and easy going, Nothing is rushed or loud, no drama. The population of the entire country is less that one large uk town

Everything outside of the city is untouched and beautiful beyond description. With so many natural wonders in Iceland I’m truly amazed it does not have more tourists, but then, that means more quiet. No trees or shrubs to speak of, just a few here and there. Makes for unusual and dramatic landscapes. Iceland is a photographers paradise.

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The third eye

I see the window as a barrier between the inner and outer worlds.

In dream interpretation buildings often represent the soul. The eye is also said to be a window to the soul. The window is the pathway through which light travels from outer to inner worlds.

It’s not just the window that separates inner and outer worlds, there is also the camera lens and then my physical eye. Eye, camera and window, each of these images has resulted in light having to travel through three layers.

As a photographer I capture frames and windows mostly when my inner world is in chaos or I am feeling low. There is a melancholy with these images, like the outer world is somehow locked away, out of reach, but that is ok. For the moment I am secure and protected. These images represent a reminder that the world continues to have blue sky somewhere.

As I Go Silently I occasionally take a  step back, reflect and take stock, whether it be to shelter from a storm or just be alone with my thoughts for a little while. To me these images are a reflection of my time spent seeing with my Third eye, a time when I needed to be was focused inwards but with a reminder that light would return.

The outer world continues to be beautiful until such time as I can go be with it again.

Amidst the Noise

Shopping centres, town centres, bustling streets and crowded roads. Love them/hate them where’s the peace in them?

Stop, sit a while. Go silently. The people around, their conversations, the coming and goings. The community is suddenly a lot smaller. People are no longer invisible they have features and characters, the same faces pass more than once and they all have a story.

I watched an older lady showing a photo album to her friends in a cafe.  After the friends left and she walked past to leave  I asked what was in the photo book. She sat down and showed me. We chatted for about an hour after closing that book.

 I’m a regular around London. Being a ‘northerner’ I do actually make eye contact, and sometimes, even make conversation. Daring! Seriously though even in the busiest and unfriendliest of places there is a way to feel and be different other than head down.

Amidst the noise a connection is made. A smile, a comment, an observation.  Amidst the noise we can hear a single voice and a single story, if we Go Silently.

Good Grief?

Is it possible to suffer loss and sit with it, to hurt and to not know when or even if it will ever feel better? To ache with each reminder but not try and change, suppress or self medicate it away?  How about to acknowledge it, and then wait for it to pass, knowing for certain it still sits somewhere within you?

It might not be a death, or the end of a relationship. There are many things to miss deep down as we trundle through life. But grief isn’t something we talk about or share freely, not even to ourselves. We have to be tough, be strong and carry on. I wonder why.

As I Go Silently I often meet with stories of grief. They find me, or maybe I’m looking for them, I don’t know. A weight has been lifted… as the grieving person releases their story. But then they remind themselves they are in the supermarket and there’s a conscience moment where they catch themselves in full flow of grief. Often they will apologise for ‘boring you’ with their story.  I am all ears but they are aware now and the mask is pulled tightly back into place. Like somehow they have just offended me, by being human, by revealing their pain, they have shamed themselves.

As I Go Silently it is easier to hear those murmurs of grief bubbling behind the humdrum of life.  They are the fabric of each person I meet. I have them, you have them, we all have them, and it really is ok. In fact there is beauty and freedom in letting it out every now and again.


Private Escapes

I recently published my first photography book titled Private Escapes .

‘Private Escapes’  came about as a result of my daughter Emily (above) being very ill with IBS for almost a year.  Emily would go silently to her private escapes and be with the world again when she was slightly better. One of Emily’s escapes was poetry and one of her poems she wrote during this time is below. Seeing Emily’s approach led to me exploring other people’s places they go to for refuge when things get difficult.

In the book I explored the Private Escapes of eight individuals. Each of them was very unique and touching, each of them a wonderful window onto the person involved.

 Create Escapes 

When lights go out and tide rolls in,

The night is darkest before dawn,

When creatures seep through walls and skin

and the fox sheds a tear for the fawn.

When heavens open and the skies they fall,

the haze shatters like broken glass

white wings, dipped in oil span against it all

The black and blue hearts – heal at last

When the shapeshifting soul folds a final time

Years draw on, and my flesh it wilts,

When dreams are cast above,

the colours in their prime bundled up

in rich cushions and quilts.

When I write about waves looping to a crash

Trees sculpting themselves beyond gaze

Soaring mountains roaring through earth’s path

What I mean is to create an escape.

E A Charlton, 2016