KATHRYN > 47 > PHOTOGRAPHER > SURREY
Ready to face the world.
Kathryn Chapman had always been her last priority. A devoted mother with a beautiful family to care for. A talented professional photographer with a passion to nurture. And when you’ve spent the best part of 40 years spiralling in and out of deep depression, you stop questioning it or think to do anything about it. Isn’t every creative a ‘tortured artist’? A life lived behind the camera, Kathryn was never the subject.
Until a bike accident hurtled her into a place so dark it knocked her into focus. When you’ve ignored your demons for that long, looking them in the eye is brutal. You only do it because you have no choice. Because it’s the only way you’ll survive another 40 years.
Therapy held a mirror up to reflect something hideous. Counselling unlocked something terrifying. Trauma buried so deep it’s seeped into your bones. But Kathryn was sick of it. She’d do anything to make it stop. Her deepest, darkest fears had been able to surface and now she had to face herself. Alone. Through the one lens that showed her the world as it truly was.
She set up her camera, took a deep breath, and for the first time in her life, let everything out.
All the scar tissue the years had built up. All the anger, sadness, pain and rage captured in over 1,000 images she had to make herself look at. In the shoot, something had shifted.
Staring back at her, she saw someone in agony. A frightened child unable to contain an unbearable grief she simply didn’t deserve. A woman deserving of compassion. Of love. Of being cared for.
“The world needs people to look after themselves so they can look after other people.”
And in that moment, Kathryn chose to take care of herself.
When you start to listen to your body, intuition kicks in. Six months later, that intuition shared a photo to a response beyond anything she had ever expected.
Women came forward. They understood. They knew that pain. And by sharing the photo she’d given them the space to acknowledge it. To release their own demons that they’d not been able to look at.
And that warmth, that empathy, that trust they’d shown in her was something she could pay forward by giving them the opportunity to be the subject. To be the focus in their own lives.
Since December, Kathryn hasn’t looked back. She’s now photographed nearly 30 women. They come to her for their own reasons. With their own stories and demons.
She asks only two things: they come as they are, with no expectations. Of the experience or of themselves. And she will do the same.
Because to truly connect with others, you have to connect with yourself.
Kathryn knows that better than anyone. When she finally let go, she was liberated. Everything made sense.
“I’m not a therapist, I’m a creative...but I’ve found my purpose.
I’ve found my gift.”
And Kathryn’s gift is quite possibly the most powerful one you could give. To sit with these women and bear witness to their stories. To show them empathy and warmth. To give them freedom and release. To make them feel safe. To make them feel beautiful.
“Wouldn’t it be great if we could all give a bit more of that?”
Through Face To Face, Kathryn allows women to own their journeys, to own their stories. She allows them to see themselves. But she’s only able to do so because she allowed herself to do the same. She allowed herself to be. And be visible.
Now the world needs to see her.
Read more about Face To Face, which is being run in collaboration with The Maya Centre, and admire Kathryn’s captivating portfolio here.