Monday, November 7, 2011
My Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. I don't have to tell you how devastating it is and how a person mourns at each stage the patient reaches. For the first two years of his illness my parents still kept their home which was five minutes from me and continued to go to Florida for seven months out of the year. The decision was finally made to sell their house in New York and be in Florida full time. So now I was faced with traveling down there at least three times a year if not more around my full time job. I took my nikon D70 which was converted to infrared and took pictures every time I was in Florida. For some reason when I looked at the images I had a visceral reaction and wrote down words to the images. I was connected on an emotional level and for me the pictures represented the turmoil I was going through and perhaps that of my Dad's now confused world. By themselves the images stand alone as mostly false color images of Florida; however with the visual poetry they are powerful pieces which depicted my journey and maybe some of his.
Part of life is not having control and learning how to respond (not react) to the unpredictable and challenges we face. Certainly Alzheimer's was totally out of anyone's control. Our only control at the time was to prepare for what we thought was to come and to make arrangements for his care. I like to compare it to hearing that a hurricane is coming so you might stock up on food, evacuate or make sure everything is secure. That is all you can do. I think of Alzheimer's as a train which you are trapped on. In the beginning it takes you to different places and stops once in awhile. Soon after, it becomes a runaway train in which there is no slowing down or stopping it.
The idea came to me to self publish a book of the images and poetry. To exhibit the images and sell the book with the sole purpose of raising money and awareness.You can preview the book at
Whether you are challenged with an illness, transition in your life such as divorce, empty nest, being a caretaker for someone who is ill or grieving the loss of a loved one; finding a medium to express your feelings and thoughts can help you go through the process. You don't have to have a "challenge" in life to do this, rather you can use photography (or any medium) to connect to life.
A popular exercise many people do is A Photo A Day or as is commonly known on the internet PAD.
A man who had a terminal illness took a Polariod a day and wrote on them. They were then posted on the internet so people could follow it. So a published book doesn't have to be a goal. Images can be posted on a website. Whether you use your struggle to help others in their's or just use it to help your own journey without sharing it, the process can be very powerful and transforming.
Feel free to share your comments and experiences in using photography as a therapeutic tool.
Photography as Therapy