Trauma Survivors

This is a personal project I worked on for a year and a half, and I’m pleased to be sharing it. It grew very organically from the project I did before it, “The Movement”. I’ve found that I’ve photographed a lot of people with trauma histories, and I wanted to explore why. I’ve found in my own experience, as well as people I know well, that a certain level of trauma gives you insight into what other people might have to deal with on a day-to-day basis, which can make you feel compassion and consideration for other people. Also, living with trauma is a struggle, and it takes a lot of hard work, but that can be an advantage. I’ve found that some people are very motivated, self-aware, and hard working. Trying to navigate mental obstacles and challenges can give you a keen sense of focus. I’ve noticed a lot of these qualities in the people I photographed in my last several projects, and I wanted to dedicate more attention to this.

Something that’s important to me is that I have common experiences with the people I’ve photographed. I have a trauma history, and I wouldn’t have started this project if I didn’t. I think that too many photographers think of themselves as objective observers, and try to just observe. I think this is part of how the art world and our culture in general approach media. You may be familiar with the idea of the “male gaze”, the idea that a lot of media is made for privileged men to see, and that the masculine perspective is the accepted norm. I’m really tired of running into this, and I’m doing my part to undo it. It’s important to me to connect with the people I photograph, and I think the format of a photo shoot works really well for that.

Before each shoot, I spend some time talking to the person, getting to know them, and talking out with them what ideas and emotions they want to focus on for the photo shoot. I’ve found it’s a useful tool for self-reflection for them, and a lot of people I photograph are in some kind of transition or period of change and growth. My goal is to use photography to help people appreciate themselves. Having trauma can mess with your sense of reality sometimes, and skew your perspective, and I find it’s really helpful to have someone else to help you sort out the mental clutter and see things more clearly. I’ve had many wonderful people in my life who’ve done this for me, and I want to be a source or clarity and solidarity for others.

I’m really grateful to everyone who volunteered to be photographed. I had originally wanted to do individual posts for each person, but it ended up being too much in addition to running my business, and everything else in life 🙂 I’m going to let the photos speak for themselves, and not go into specifics about each person. I hope you enjoy these photos and get something out of them!