Broken Light: A Photography Collective

We are photographers living with or affected by mental illness; supporting each other one photograph at a time. Join our community, submit today!

Black Sun of El Moro

Photos taken by first-time contributor Joel Sax, a man who has suffered from bipolar depressions since he was in second grade. He earned an Anthropology degree from Pomona College and attended Duke University on a graduate fellowship that he lost after assuming too heavy a course load, typical of his hypomanic episodes. In 1992, he became convinced that he was being called to help peace groups in former Yugoslavia, so he went there for three months after being laid off.  After years of hiding the full extent of his condition from his psychiatrists, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after a suicide attempt at age 47 and placed on mood stabilizers. Since then, he has gone from resignation to hope which he manifests in his photography.

About these photos:  “I like to play with many cameras ranging from plastic cameras such as the Lomography La Sardina to high quality image makers such as the Bronica ETRS and Nikons.  The Fuji Instax 210 gives me the chance to form images rapidly.  I took these in the El Moro Canyon section of Crystal Cove State Park between Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, California.  The flattened field is a mystery to me:  I have no idea how it was done or why — though I doubt space aliens did it.  The black sun is an interesting effect that manifests when you point an Instax at the sunset.  If these speak of my condition, they do so subconsciously because I didn’t set out to create specifically “bipolar” images.  The white frame is part of my realization.  I never scan a photo from the Instax without including it.”


**Visit Broken Light’s main gallery here. Currently accepting submissions.

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6 comments on “Black Sun of El Moro

  1. bradvanfleet
    September 26, 2013

    Very interesting effect with the black sun. Always good to hear about stories in which photography helps people through certain things. I’ve heard more about it in veterans with PTSD, but it’s great to hear that it helps with other conditions too.


  2. Sam Spencer
    September 26, 2013

    Nice shots . . . reminds me fondly of my six years in California . . thanks & hope you’re doin’ well . . .


  3. lerestnadine
    September 26, 2013

    Reblogged this on lerestnadine.


  4. Scottish Vision
    September 26, 2013

    Great use of negative space, offers a very atmospheric composition… you could get lost in this – well done!


  5. lilcalichick86
    September 26, 2013

    the sun is always black in polaroids. i did a collection of mini polaroids and its always black. its black because its so bright that it cannot be translated onto the film.


  6. Paula McLane Jennings
    September 28, 2013

    Love that sunset photo!


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