Photography as a soul therapy

Started Aug 11, 2022 | Discussions thread
New to DSC-World Regular Member • Posts: 448
Re: Photography as a soul therapy
2

alpshiker wrote:

Needless to say, for many of us, photography is a medium on which we have set our sights to help ourselves heal from the attacks on our mental health of the reality of a fleeting world, in constant upheaval and largely unpredictable. Well, maybe you hadn't thought of it like this yet.

I would like to start this thread on the subject of the consolation that photography can bring us in various situations. I remember having suffered from the disappearance of landscapes that I loved, of beautiful trees or witnesses of the past. As we get older, the effects of age and illness on the people we love and of course on ourselves, and sometimes, of a change that has come too suddenly and leaves us on the floor, such as when the death of a loved one occurs. These are times when we turn to photographs, to remember how things were and ought to be in a world set right side up.

On a personal note, I had mentioned six months ago on this forum, the loss of my friend. I have now prepared a photographic tribute about her, the link of which you will find in my August ramblings – please bear with me. Apologies also because this is nothing elaborate and these are not images taken in medium format either. We had known each other for a good dozen years. Photographing her was tricky at first because of her disabilities, and she needed to tame the photographer. But she got hooked on the game and quickly took pleasure in these moments of complicity and in the peculiar gaze that the camera sent back to her. Showing her how I saw her, turned out to be a great way to prove to her that she was still a truly worthy and remarkable person despite a debilitating illness. And this exercise helped me heal myself from a failure in my past. She had never posed for a photographer, nor did I have the experience of a portrait artist. Everything was improvised, as is often the case with the finer things in life.

Photography certainly provides a welcome chance to step back from a very busy and challenging professional life. I have three jobs across academia and the NGO world, in three different countries, all focused on work I love, which is improving vision care in low income countries. But sometimes stepping sideways into a field where the stakes aren't quite so high, and my own expectations for performance can be a bit more relaxed, is quite invigorating. And there is a connection that I like with photography and my work: It is all about seeing!

Another example: My mother is now very severely demented, and wouldn't reliably recognise me when I do have the rare chance to visit her in the US (I live in the UK). But she is certainly the one from whom I caught the photo bug, and I have a picture of her here in my office, sharp as a tack, that I took many years ago on my 4X5 Linhof and printed at 16x20. Just the way I remember her. I look at it every day. There is another one in the house, a 12X20 Platinum print of her swinging a baseball bat with that most competitive look that very much characterised our relationship. It wasn't any easy picture to take (there is after all a reason people aren't doing a lot of sports photography at 12X20"). But it gives me a lot of peace to have that bit of her.

I've always kept some of my photography at my various offices over the years, as a reminder of another part of myself.

Thanks for the good topic, I am guessing this may be a popular thread!

Best regards,

Nathan

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