Five photography series about heartbreak and breakups

Documenting regret, recovery and obsession.

[B]reakups are notoriously tough for everyone. Turning pain into art, however, proves for some to be a cathartic release – allowing emotions to be brought to the surface and confronted.

From the self-destructive and self-loathing behaviour that follows a painful split, to the melancholy of heartbreak, the obsessive questioning and doubting which leads to a self re-brand, the editing out of your ex (literally) and the final days of a relationship – here we look at five photography series born out of breakups that deal with moving on very differently.

Laura StevEns – Another November

Channeling her pain and suffering, photographer Laura Stevens embarked on a photography project staging women – some she knew, others she approached on the street – in sombre scenes that were illustrative of her loneliness as a newly single woman. Though capturing a number of different faces – smoking cigarettes, dining alone and lying face down on the bed – the series collectively was representative of one woman’s journey, dealing with her emotions post break up. In an interview with LensCulture, the photographer explained: “By constructing images of the evolving chapters of loss and renewal, I gave myself a vantage point from which to view the changes occurring in me. Beginning with the feelings of pain, confusion and loneliness, I eventually moved towards the reconstruction of my identity as an individual.”

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De-Selfing – hsin wang

“What did I do wrong?”,“what could I have done differently?” – these were the questions that plagued photographer Hsin Wang following a major split six years ago. Believing her only hope to find love again was through shedding layers of her old self, the photographer chose to “de-self” to transform into a more likeable woman, which led to her therapeutic photography series De-Selfing. With faceless subjects – wrapped in clingfilm and intwined in a jumper together – shot in front of a dull grey backdrop, with props including smashed ice creams and eggs, her images capture the melancholy of heartbreak.

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TWO SOULS BY JORDAN TIBERIO

As an assignment for Upon Paper magazine, New York born and based photographer Jordan Tiberio spent two days photographing her friends – who had been in a relationship for a year – getting intimate in bed in the nude. The images captured the lovers interlocked in a series of black and white shots, in what turned out to be the final weeks of their relationship – which left a haunting undertone to the pictures.

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WAYS I HURT MYSELF TO HURT YOU – LORA MATHIS

A plate of pills and cigarettes to numb the pain, text messages which pine for an ex-lover and slowly morph into a ‘fuck you, this sucks’, and a shattered iPhone smashed up by a hammer – this is what to expect of your mental stability post breakup according to poet and artist Lora Mathis. For her ongoing photography series Ways I Hurt Myself To Hurt You, the young artist explores the destructive, self loathing habits that come with the heartbreak of a breakup.

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