Photography and Healing

Why photography and healing? Find out by reading this short essay I wrote for Higher Focus blog.

photography and healing

Some people seem to have an abundance of words. I was never one of those people. Shy, quiet, reserved were terms that people used to describe me as I was growing up. I observed. I watched what was happening around me—and occasionally offered my few words.

Then later in life, while living in Thailand, the word-defying experience of losing my husband to a drunk driver snatched my already sparse words away. All my memories of those early weeks of shock became frozen images carried in my body: the vibrancy of my 18 month-old’s orange overalls against a backdrop of dark news, where I was standing as I took the phone call, the face of a co-worker as he said, “This can’t be real.”

photography and healing

Talk therapy did give me space to voice my questions: “Where was God in this? We were serving God, helping those less fortunate; shouldn’t we have received some kind of Divine protection?” Yet the traumatic energy still felt trapped within.

Then one day sitting by a river watching my son and his cousin play, I saw a red leaf lying on the stones. The image of that leaf radiantly ending its time on earth seemed to speak to one of those frozen images inside me. It allowed me to let go, just a little, of the tension I held.

That first healing photo was made with a compact, digital camera. I was not a professional photographer. I simply had a camera because all moms do. Yet that little camera and a future beginner’s dSLR became my most important healing tools.

A pink rose weighed down with snow, a raindrop against a sunset, a fallen leaf speared by a twig, an old barn falling into verdant green trees, decaying hollow logs, and leaves trapped in ice gave me images to define my wordless emotions. Thus a thawing and healing began.

These photos now hold my traumatic memories and emotions for me. My body no longer has to. The memories are still part of my story, and I can go back and be with them whenever I wish. But I am no longer stuck living out of those frozen images and emotions. I live holding the reality of the snow-buried rose, while knowing a new rose awaits in the spring.

photography and healing

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