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Photography as Therapy | Photohead Online
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Apr 172012

Photography as Therapy

At the risk of being too personal on this blog, for the past 3 weeks my 97 year old grandmother has been in the hospital and fighting for her life. She had a mild stroke 3 weeks ago and everything seemed to be heading in the right direction until a couple of days ago when she got a bad infection and started heading south. The fact that she was in the hospital in the first place weighed heavily on me but the fact that she wasn’t doing well made it worse. Historically, She has also been the strong matriarch of the family hardly being sick all the way into her 90’s and besides two knee replacement surgeries in her 90’s she has always been in top health with no real issues at all. The fact that the doctor’s felt it fit to give her not one but two knee replacements at over 90 years of age goes to show how healthy she has been. It’s really foreign to me that she’s not doing well, I guess I took if for granted that she would live past the century mark and at least be able to see my son enter into First grade at the least. Every other time I visited her in the hospital after the knee surgeries, and a slip and fall accident that she had, she’s always been the tower for strength, telling us that she’d be ok and more worried if we had eaten lunch, dinner, etc. other than feeling bad for herself. I’ve got to say that my past year has been pretty tough to deal with (details aside for now), that this pretty much hit me in my blind spot. I was feeling like things were starting to slow down and “normalize” but this one caught me off guard.

Yesterday, I started out the day visiting my grandmother in the hospital and it wasn’t good. She didn’t look the same as she did just even two days before that. She seems like a shell of herself fighting to even stay awake. As I walked into the ICU one of her alarms just happened to go off and she opened her eyes slightly and I said “hi and I love you” and that was it. She tried to say something but I didn’t understand and then she went back to sleep. I could see how hard it was for her to breathe as chest moved up and down. I was very painful for me to watch. I went to get my wife and brought her in the room and as I was telling my grandma that I had brought my wife to see her, she opened her eyes again and said what sounded like my wife’s name, and then went back to sleep. My wife and I told her that we loved her and to stay strong. I couldn’t help but leave the hospital in a daze. I started to think about the past, and all the great memories with my grandmother started to flow and consume my mind. You see, I was fortunate enough to live with my grandmother for a while when my family first came to the United States. Yes, I’m first generation Canadian! 😉 I was lucky to be able to spend many years with her and garner the wisdom that she had through our relationship.

As I thought through the past and the good times I’ve had with my grandmother, I felt the need to go out and make some images. As I did when I was a young teenager at the age of 14, I wanted to go and connect with nature and my surrounding. At the age of 14 is when I started my relationship with photography and built my passion for it in a deep way. Many youths go through a time of searching to find their identity and a way to deal with all the emotions of being a teenager. My way was photography, I learned that making images and finding your own voice and expression was important to the balance of your life. Some kids found it in sports, in band, in academics. I found mine in the Art of Photography. I found if done right, you can speak to your audience with no words, you can show people how you feel without them seeing you. You can have a voice and connect with your environment. The people the places the nature. When you get into this sudo-meditative mode it not only gives you perspective but it also gives you peace.

Meditative Peace

For some people its yoga, for other’s it’s meditation, and for the more spiritual is praying. For me its Photography. Not to say this is my only way but this is one way. I don’t know if it’s because I think of F-Stops and shutter speeds, or composition, or that I search, or concentrate really hard, But as I walk around searching for images, the other issues that I’m going through start to slip into my thought process, not in a bad way but in a slow and peaceful way. As I went out to go take some pictures yesterday afternoon to process the drama and trauma of visiting my grandmother earlier in the morning, the memories of my grandma started to slip into my mind. I remembered many great times we had and how full of a life that she has lived. Maybe it was the beauty of the light at “magic hour” or the wind blowing though the trees but the feeling that all was “right” in the world started to come over me. As I continued to make images and walk through the trees, a wave of emotion envelops me and I have to stop a second and be in the moment. Luckily, there was no one around to see this crazy man crying in the middle of a line of palm trees, but as I allowed my self to have that moment Peace came over me.

I’m still sad that my grandmother is in the hospital, that hasn’t gone away and I still have my emotional moments, but the fear and negative energy has passed. The Peace has replaced it. I’m talking about the deep down Peace that tells you, all is as it should be and that positive energy will replace the negative. This has allowed me to not let this event shackle me into depression. It has liberated me from being down on my self and has lifted me up to be able to pursue my passion and make images.

This is one way that I use to battle adversity, maybe it’s something that may work for you. Please give it a shot.

Please use the comments to share how you find your Meditative Peace. How do you deal with adversity and make it positive? I’m curious how other people deal with the big issues in life. Please Share.

Thanks for Reading.

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2 Responses to “Photography as Therapy”


    This is a great posting, so sorry to hear about your grandma. For me I can find peace in drawing cars, or sometimes working on cars. the more monotonous, the better.


      thanks PW for your comment. I love cars and working on them also, it’s just much harder to do these days with a child. Plus, working on a car is so much more of a process compared to just grabbing a camera and going out. 🙂

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