Using Photography to Heal From PTSD

I am so damn excited to finally be able to share this with you:

Over the years I have written a lot about my journey with PTSD.  I have spoken about it on podcasts, on countless stages, in magazine articles and over coffee with friends who needed to talk.  Putting yourself out there and speaking from a place of vulnerability is never easy.  On the contrary, it can be terrifying at times.  But, there is magic in doing it because it helps people.  

At my core that is who I have always tried to be… a helper.  For so many years I did it with my hands, with IVs full of medication, with bandages and tourniquets and with defibrillators.  The tools of my trade have changed now of course, I traded in my stethoscope for a camera a long time ago, but I am still trying to help by telling my story to anyone who will listen.  

I tell it because I know it has helped other people who are struggling, much like I was helped by hearing about the experiences of others when I needed it the most.

Here is where the plot thickens…

A few months ago I was contacted by the lovely people at Muse Storytelling.  We spoke about this new project that my friends at Fujifilm Cameras were doing.  It was a  video based project that focused on the creative process, on why we make art and on what drives us to do what we do.  There would be no talk about camera settings, or which lens is better, or what accessories you should buy.  It was going to be a celebration of life, of people, of art and of storytelling.  It was amazing, and I knew right away that I had to be a part of it.

And now, finally, all of you who helped me on this journey can be a part of it too.  You are all amazing.  You saved me, and I will be eternally grateful.  

Please follow this link to view my video in the Create Forever series.  

https://fujifilm-x.com/en-us/create-forever-ian-macdonald/

I hope you like it.

Cheers,

Ian

 

Podcasts, Loss, New Directions & Mr. Rogers

We lost two giants this week:  Fred Herzog and Robert Frank.  I never met either of them personally, but both of these gentleman were hugely influential to me as a photographer.  They passed away at the ages of 88 and 94, respectively, after long lives spent pursuing their artistic passions.  

Inspirational indeed.

I was the guest on this week’s FujiCast podcast (episode 30), where I spoke to one half of the dynamic duo that host the show (Kevin Mullins and Neale James).  We chatted about photography, my PTSD, and about how important the arts can be to a person who is suffering from something.  Neale was a gracious host, an even better interviewer, and I think we covered a lot of ground during our short talk.  Be sure to check it out:

https://www.fujicast.co.uk/?p=647

It feels like I am spending a lot of time talking about my journey these days, perhaps even as much as I spend working as a photographer.  This wasn’t something that I intentionally set out to do, but I have had so many people reach out to let me know that my story helped them.  That’s pretty much the best thing in the world.  

The truth is that I have always tried to be a helper in one form or another… it is what I do and it is who I am.  Mr Rogers once said:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world.” 

That was me for over 20 years on an ambulance, and for 25 years in the classroom.  Helping others has been my life’s work and, even though I am not on an ambulance anymore, maybe this is just my little way of trying to help right now.  There is actually a new project launching soon, related to this, that I am very excited to share with you in the coming month.

And to the both of you, Mr. Herzog and Mr. Frank, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the art that you created and so generously shared with the world.  We are all better for it.

Cheers,

Ian

On Time & Transition

Labour Day has come and gone, bringing a sea change to our house as the lazy days of summer give way to the chaos of fall.  There is a long standing tradition in our family that I take Michaela to her first day of school each year.  I have re-arranged work schedules, cancelled appointments, done whatever was necessary to make sure that this happened.  It is a selfish thing on my part, an opportunity to spend one last moment of summer together before she goes back to school.

Last year, when I dropped Michaela off for the first day of grade seven (her last elementary school year), she said goodbye and rushed out of the car with a youthful confidence.  That school had been her second home for 8 years, full of friends and teachers that she trusted, and she walked through the front door like she owned the place.

The first day of high school is different though, isn’t it?  You go from being a big fish in a little pond, to a small fish in an ocean of uncertainty.  I could tell that she was nervous this morning but I watched, full of pride, as my daughter exited the car alone and took those brave first steps into the next phase of her life.

…another transition under way.

I thought a lot about her on my drive home, of memories going right back to the delivery room if I am being honest.  I thought about her first steps, her first words, and our first trip to Disneyland together.   I thought about the relentless march of time, and how we are constantly swept along from one transition in life to another.  Transitions can be scary, overwhelming at times, but they also bring us opportunities for growth.

I clearly remember many firsts in my own life:  The first time I walked into an ambulance station to work as a paramedic.  The first life that I saved.  The first baby I delivered.  The first death notification I gave.  The first time I held my guitar and stepped onto a stage.  My first professional gig as a photographer.  The first time I reached out to hold my wife’s hand.  The day my daughter was born. The first time I realized I had PTSD.  The first time I felt healthy again.

Every one of these “firsts” brought an opportunity for success.  And, when I failed, they brought an opportunity for growth.  These transitions, as well as a thousand other ones, defined me.  I am proud of the person I am today, I am proud of the work that I do, but never have I been more proud than when I watched my daughter walk into that high school this morning.  She is my legacy, the lessons learned from my own transitions merely giving me the tools to support her through hers.

I don’t know what the unstoppable march of time will bring me next, but I know that I will always embrace the opportunities that come with it.

Cheers,

Ian