With a fascination for both photography and psychology rooted in her early teens, 26-year-old Austin based photographer Edie Sunday arrived at a point where she needed to decide which one to primarily pursue. ‘I ultimately chose psychology because I figured I could take photos without having to go to school for photography.’ Missing out on art school was at first tough but then she says, ‘going to school for psychology I of course learned more about myself and fought through a level of self-awareness in a way I don’t think I’d have found at art school. It has allowed me to break out of how shy I was about my work and finally start sharing it.’ Now a psychotherapist in training, she juggles finishing her PHD with photography; the latter of which is a visual translation of the inner workings of her mind, her own personal form of therapy.
Growing up in a Houston suburb meant making the effort to travel outside of small-town banality essential for Edie, to a place where breath-taking views and acres of open fields spread out before her in abundance. A place where swimming holes, dream-like and something she says "you’d expect to find in Hawaii" serendipitously hide within the dry hills from which the Texan sunset can be viewed in all it’s glory. Her images are mysterious and otherworldly, with subjects often posing in vast and impressive landscapes like this while swimming in kaleidoscopes of colour.
Taking photos for Edie used to be her way of accessing "that period between dreaming and waking, when you’re half conscious but also so much of your consciousness is shut down and all of these strange images from your unconscious are allowed to flip into awareness." Although an interest in the surreal nature of lucid dreaming is still there, reality provides just as much inspiration: "I think that as I have now become more comfortable with myself as a photographer I try to let what’s happening around me inspire me. Now when I carry my camera with me, I just let my life happen."
Home is now Austin, a place she says the smell of alone lets her know she’s home once she’s reached the city’s airport. "It’s a place that smells more like nature than any other place in the world, both lush and dry. They’ve done a good job at not tearing down everything natural to build a city in Austin", she says. Despite being a largely visual person, "Smell is probably the strongest of the senses for me. It has the most direct pathway to memory. Growing up, I’d smell a certain smell and immediately I’d have a flash back to whatever that smell reminded me of. It overwhelms me with memories, nostalgia and feeling."
The themes of femininity, emotion and vulnerability run throughout her work. Through taking photos of herself and friends in natural un-posed states, it shows "people being human beings, being vulnerable. I tend to take self-portraits when I am feeling I’m feeling bad. It kind of pulls me out of it." Exposing herself through self-portraiture is a method that allows her to connect to her work more intimately, with the hope of translating her dedication to "staying soft and vulnerable even when the world makes you want to hide and become hardened. It’s a lot easier said than done, but I think in hardening yourself you lose who you really are. My work wouldn’t exist without being able to feel, not just my work in photography but psychology too."