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Note to Self

Someday I’ll tell you the whole story of why I opened this theme. Suffice to say that life turned upside down. When traumas or triumphs hit, it can feel like you’re walking through an alternate universe version of your own life. Read these twenty-three accounts of Pictory contributors finding a new normal, or firmly reminding themselves of who they are.

Take the Car

Take the Car

Two broken hands, four broken ribs, and a shattered elbow were the injuries sustained. I have since recovered, but I still don’t have full mobility in my right arm. This is a message to my past self to take the car instead of the motorcycle on March 27, 2006.

Photographer: Konstantin Golovchinsky

I am a Los Angeles based fine-art photographer. The above image launched a photo project called Message in a Bottle. Using the same Moleskine journal, I ask people to write one of three messages, the options are: 1. Write a message to yourself in the past. 2. Write a message to someone you’re not in contact with anymore. 3. Write a message to the Universe.

Slow Down

Slow Down

It’s okay to not feel well. Just feel it. What you’re running from can’t kill you, but the running itself can.

Photographer: Justin Wolfson

Unemployed in Brooklyn.

It’s Never as Bad as You Think

It’s Never as Bad as You Think

Dear little girl in the tie dyed pants, when you were young, you held hands and kissed lips. You made love and mistakes. That boy with the golden hair broke your heart, but he had to so you could meet the boy with the thick black glasses and the crooked smile. And that boy with the thick black glasses and the crooked smile had to break your heart so you could meet the boy with auburn hair and ocean eyes. Everything that will happen is part of your path.

Photographer: Kimberly Alu

Actress in New Jersey, New York, and Los Angeles.

Say No

Say No

He came up to me, grinning widely, nervously. He told me there was someone else and things were not going to be easy. We talked. I cried. I was going to say “I’m leaving,” but I choked on my words. He had to go home before she got suspicious. He put me in a cab, paid the driver, and sent me away.

It’s so clear to me now: That was the day I sold myself out.

Photographer: Lindsay Wengler

Lindsay Wengler is a Brooklyn based photographer. Her photographic interests lie primarily in street photography; capturing fleeting and often overlooked moments in everyday life.

True to Yourself

True to Yourself

As long as you stand out, you’ll attract others who are like you. Be proud to be you. Try not to care what other people think. People have hurt you in the past, and will probably hurt you in the future. Stay strong.

Photographer: Alex Thomas

I’m a 25-year-old girl from Seattle who is still developing my photo/cinematography eye. In the meantime I work at the largest video store in the world and edit film on the side.

Daily Dose

Daily Dose

I hate that the phrase “good days and bad days” has entered my vocabulary. Five years ago I was 22 and feeling invincible. Now, after panic attacks and sky-rocketing blood pressure, I’m not sure I’ll make it to 50. I wish I’d been more careful, taken things slower. Like Stanley Greene once said, “Sometimes your wings get singed, or you just burn up.”

Photographer: Tristan Wheelock

My name is is Tristan Wheelock. I’m a freelance photographer who splits his time between India and the United States. I’m currently based inside of a bright blue airstream trailer that is en route to visit every state in this great country before the fourth of July.

Open Waters

Open Waters

Sorry, but I like to eat good food and have a roof over my head. When I find out how to be a successful liberal hippie who chases her fantasies, I’ll abandon the corporate gig. Until then, I’m going to enjoy the health insurance and vacations.

Photographer: Mia Iverson

Mia is currently a web visibility manager based in Kansas. Photography, writing, and travel are her hobbies.



I’ve been told that the city is violent and that it is beautiful. That things are awful there and that things are really looking up. That it’s going to flood again and that it will always remain corrupt. That it will make me or break me. Everyone’s got an idea of what’s going to happen when I leave Wisconsin to start over in New Orleans at age 38. I haven’t a clue.

Photographer: Nicole Gruter

I’m an artist now residing in New Orleans. My work incorporates elements of performance, voice, duration, spoken word, video, installation, sound, and song. My subject matters range from political satire, family immigration, hoarding, operatic arias, and Dutch butter cake.



You woke up alone, walked to the train door, and felt the cold air hit your face. You felt alive. This is the moment you realized you were stronger than you thought. Strong enough to take a round-the-world trip by yourself. Remember this moment when you feel self doubt. Remember opening that door on the train and the feeling that rushed in.

Photographer: Nicolette Bethea

Nicolette is a media producer, wanna-be photographer, and traveling vagabonder. She usually calls San Francisco home.

Out of Context

Out of Context

Little did I know, as a fashion editor and bonafide city-girl, that I’d someday move to the hills of Northern California to be with the love of my life. Or that this rat-infested airstream would be my hillbilly office.

Photographer: Heidi Lender

Fine-art photographer living between the hills of northern California and the plains of Uruguay. This image is part of a series called “Once Upon.”

Letting Go

Letting Go

You and your best friend were there for each other when times were tough, and now you don’t talk anymore. You have both found partners to lean on and your friendship will never be the same. And that’s ok.

Photographer: Delphine Roussel

Delphine Roussel is an office manager in a film post production house in Toronto. She has a BFA from Ryerson University.



It was Father’s Day 2009 when I found out. We ducked into an Internet cafe in Florence and I saw her check an email account I’d never heard of, an account she refused to talk about. It’s been a year and a half now and we’re still taking it one day at a time. I wish I knew how it would all turn out. No matter what though, I don’t think I’ll regret any of it. Without my wife, I wouldn’t have the most important thing in my life: my daughter.

Photographer: Devon Adams

Devon Christopher Adams is an educator in Arizona who’s become more and more obsessed with photography.



Please, don’t get into that car. He will never love you like he loves his drugs. Please believe me that things can get worse, even if it feels like rock bottom now.

Photographer: Alexandra Tulloch

I am an amateur photographer living in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Don't Tell Anyone I Love You

Don’t Tell Anyone I Love You

These figures at the capitol building in DC speak to me of connection and complicity. They also remind me of where my partner and I started: keeping our love a secret. I’m 50. I’m gay. I live in Washington, DC where same-sex marriage is legal. My partner and I are getting married next year. We’ve come a long way.

Photographer: Ernesto Santalla

I am a Cuban-born architect residing in Washington, DC. I design, photograph, and write, not always in that order.

Starting at Home

Starting at Home

No matter where you were born, where you have lived, how long you have been away, this is the only country that is yours. It’s a God-awful mess right now, has been for awhile, and probably will be for awhile longer, but that doesn’t make it yours to desert. It makes it yours to fix.

Photographer: Rhoda Severino

Home (for now) is Singapore, but always has been and always will be Manila, the Philippines.

Throwing Caution

Throwing Caution

I had a crush on the owner of this bike, but I was too painfully shy and timid to ever get to know him. He’s since left his job and moved out of the country. This shot I snapped of his officemates’ prank reminds me to break out of my shell the next time.

Photographer: Stephanie Kao

I work for a nonprofit arts organization in Santa Barbara, California.

Finding Home

Finding Home

Will I ever get over the pull I feel to both of these places?

Photographer: Sara Ferguson

I’m a photo archivist living in Oakland, California. My favorite things are driving backroads and taking pictures.

These are Hard Times for Dreamers

These are Hard Times for Dreamers

Graduating high school feels like this: for seventeen and a half years, I have been driving in daylight, and suddenly the sun went down. Now don’t get me wrong, I can see perfectly fine. But there is something unnerving about not being able to see farther than my headlights will shine. The landscape is pregnant with the unknown — deer, switchbacks, oncoming traffic. I can’t think about it too much, though. I just have to keep driving.

Photographer: Sophie Hess

i am a photographer and high school student living in Baltimore, Maryland.

Dear Me

Dear Me

Excerpts from a letter I addressed to my teenage self a few years ago:

  • Pay attention to mom when she wants to teach you how to cook.
  • Go to France, go go go, it will change your life.
  • Fall in love more and worry less.
  • Trust that you already know what you want to do with your life, you’re just not saying it out loud yet.
Photographer: Lisa Wiseman

I live and work in San Francisco where my house is filled with modern art and photography books. I love cooking, swimming, and really high heels.

At the Beach in Denmark

At the Beach in Denmark

It seemed at that moment that everything would be perfect forever. The only way to keep those moments, however, is to photograph them and write about them.

Photographer: Nick Today

I am a curious traveller currently based in Bergen, Norway, though I come from Rhode Island.

On Tap

On Tap

I work in rural villages in India. Every time I arrive home to Texas, I am reminded of the luxury of clean water flowing through three different taps in my home. I want to remember to be appreciative and conscious of our precious water supply.

Photographer: Vanessa Stone

Vanessa Stone works as a humanitarian and founded the Amala Foundation. She travels the world engaged in humanitarian service and captures life through the lens. She is based out of Austin, Texas.

Wake-Up Call

Wake-Up Call

Their internal alarm clock doesn’t always match the actual alarm clock; mornings often start rambunctious and early. But that clock keeps ticking and these moments, these days, fly by faster than you can imagine. Relish them. It is the one thing you will not regret.

Photographer: Sarah Robertson

I’m a mother of four and animator’s wife in Los Angeles.

Moving Back in

Moving Back in

Congratulations! I know it was tough moving back in with your parents, with everything you own crammed into one room. All the detritus of your adult life sits next to the butterfly border, reminding you daily of your inadequacies. But you’re doing it. You’re working with what you love the most: words. I know you want to forget the difficulties, but please don’t — they are proof that you have a loving family that supports you no matter what.

Photographer: Megan Sherritt

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