Making Emotions Tangible – Mithila Jariwala

About 3 years back, in order to understand and explore an estranged relationship I shared with my father, I started photographing him and life in my parent’s home. It was a very therapeutic process. Ever since I started using photography as therapy for myself.

At the same time I also started consulting a therapist as I had been feeling polarised emotions and experiencing internal conflict for a while. As I spoke to my therapist each time, I had these visuals in my head of how I felt. Alongside I started photographing my state of mind. I started translating those feelings/mental visuals in to images.

The intentionality was not conscious initially, but by translating my emotions and my state of mind in to an image let me externalize it and make it tangible. This objectification of my state of being gave me more clarity and allowed me to explore it further.

These images are in chronological order of my state of being, mostly captured between February 2017 and July 2018. For a very long time I did not look back at these images, but when I did, I was able to make meaning out of it.

Now photographing my state of being has become a part of me. I do it more intentionally and it really gives me clarity about when I feel a certain way and what may be causing it. Keeping it in a chronological order also lets me understand the timeline and the place that I may be at the time.

At one point I called this project, ‘Expedition Happiness’, but it also made me realize that I was looking for the kind of happiness that I used to feel a few years back. But I have come to understand that this journey has led me to change and grow and happiness looks different now.


Mithila Jariwala is a social documentary photographer working with human interest stories and engaging with various communities in different parts of the world. Alternating between social documentary photography and long-term personal projects, her work has been informed by narrative ideas.

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