October 30, 2015 – by Jackie Augustine
At JHP we know that first hand that the “power photography” can change lives. We believe that by providing a creative platform to the physically and emotionally challenged, the elderly, at-risk youth, homeless and the visually impaired populations, it inspires and enable individuals to channel their energy in an open and expressive way. No longer are they labeled by their disability but they are enabled by their ability to connect to and capture the world around them through photography. It’s what we’ve been doing for 74 years!
But I was so moved by Shaun’s story from dPS, Digital Photography School (digital-photography-school.com) that I wanted to share this story with our readers. Shaun was in a serious traffic accident that left him in a coma for several weeks and unable to walk or use his left arm and the last 2 years of his life have largely been spent for me in hospital or rehabilitation centres. Here’s his story:
“Photography has given me dreams for the future”
The following is by a dPS reader – Shaun. It started as an email to me from him – however it was so powerful that I convinced him to allow us to publish it as a post. I hope that he might also one day let me convince him to share some of his photos too! Please Share this! – Darren
In June of 2009 I was involved in a serious traffic accident that left me in a coma for several weeks and unable to walk or use my left arm. The list of injuries I have are longer than I can include here and so the last 2 years of my life have largely been spent for me in hospital or rehabilitation centres.
Much of my past life is a distant memory – things I used to take for granted and do without thinking take hours of effort to achieve, friendships have changed as I’ve become reliant upon others to survive and for a long time I lived without much hope. Depression became a state I lived in 24/7.
Around 6 months ago, and as part of my rehabilitation, my therapist suggested that I try to introduce something creative into my life. I think he was just trying to get me to think of something outside of my situation. He suggested painting but also mentioned in passing another patient who had taken up photography.
Being a techy guy (in my past life) I liked the idea of getting a camera and after a lot of research purchased a small four thirds format camera (a Panasonic GF1). I wanted a DSLR but due to their size and my limited movement (I do everything with one hand) I went for a lighter and smaller camera.
I also spent a heap of time on your website since buying the camera. I’ve not taken photos before but dPS has taught me a lot!
Over the last 6 months my life has changed a lot. Physically I’m improving a little – although still live life in a wheelchair and am very restricted in my movement – but emotionally I’m a different guy and much of it is a result of photography.
My Photographic Challenges
There are a lot of challenges to take a simple photo for me. For example:
- Getting to a location to photograph can be tough – I like street photography and landscapes and much of my life is confined to my small apartment or rehab centres.
- Keeping my camera still – I ended up getting a small Tripod attachment welded by a friend to my wheelchair which has helped me a lot. Now my camera is in front of me any time I’m in my chair. I’ve since found purpose made mounts for wheelchairs and have just ordered one (the Mount Mover) – this will also enable me to consider a DSLR.
- Just taking a shot – when I’m out with other photographers I notice that they are able to take a lot of shots from different angles and compositions that I’m not able to get.
How Photography Gives Me Hope
However despite the challenges photography has made me feel alive again. It has become a very therapeutic thing.
- It gives me something to think about that is not related to my pain or injuries.
- It gives me motivation to get well again.
- It takes me out of sitting alone in my apartment.
- It has given me dreams for the future.
- It has given me a social interaction with other photographers (online and in real life).
My photos are not as technically brilliant as many of your authors – but that’s not what photography is about for me. For me it is a part of getting well and celebrating life, something I never thought I’d do again
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