Updated: Jun 11
It is becoming apparent that I am developing an obsessive passion for my new dream of Photographic Therapy!
I have this dream to bring photographic therapy and all subdivisions of it into mainstream mental health allot like art therapy is now and push for it to become an academic career that you can study just like art therapy... Talk about dreaming big! And that is just a side project to being a photographer!
Admittedly I am a little worried I may choke on the chunk I am biting off. But I have been given nothing but encouraging support and advice to which I'm truly grateful.
I started volunteering at The Moira Anderson Foundation in 2017, a charity that provides support and help to anyone who has suffered child sexual abuse. In the time I spent with them it was an amazing experience. I keenly used my photographic skills in any way that helped the charity and they were extremely supportive of my Photographic Therapy Dreams and ideas.
There are three main areas of Photographic Therapy that I want to incorporate into the Therapy; in laymen terms they are; the act of taking a photo, the act of observing photos & the act of participating in photos.
It all began when my first year at college started alongside having to help our Daughter through her traumatic experience. A therapists story told to me whilst waiting for my daughter in her therapy session sparked this dream! How she had studied psychology only to discover she didn't feel she was helping in the way she had imagined, feeling lost she chatted with a friend about her other passion Aromatherapy, the question was posed can she combine these two passions? Her answer was to become a Complementary Therapist.
The idea of combining my passion to help those who have gone through what we have and my Photography stemmed from that light bulb moment hearing her story then talking to her about my ideas as they appeared. I had explained how I know photography is therapeutic because I've used it as a coping mechanism and expressive out let, the single minded focus of the moment of that perfect shot is a kin to meditation! I wanted to share this experience with others. Little did I know that I had only touched on the therapeutic potential!
The next mile stone was when an amazingly enthusiastic and passionate photography lecturer reminded us of an enterprise competition which had a deadline at the end of that day, I remember hearing about it a month or so before and thinking 'I could not possibly come up with a business idea with the potential to win' but as our lecturer encouraged us to enter the first stage of the competition because there was a £50 prize draw just for entering, "what have you got to loose" she said.
My second light bulb moment happened; photographic therapy is a new niche in the mental health sector, though it wasn't about the money for me, it was about helping people. This was an opportunity to pitch an idea with the chance of winning funding to start up this plan! So I chatted with my lecturer who was extremely supportive and encouraging, within an hour I had written a short plan!
I didn't win the raffle, but the support I received from those who heard my idea was far more valuable! I was encouraged to take the competition to the next step. I joined a series of business classes which was invaluable, I learned a little about making a business plan and more about evaluating my strengths and weaknesses as well as learning how to do a SWAT analysis, it allowed me to formulate my idea which I began to realize had much more potential than I had originally thought. I learned the value of research and analysis.
I entered the competition at the end of the classes with a detailed plan. I didn't win and was explained that though my idea had huge potential I was lacking the necessary experience to implement it, which I had already discovered in my own analysis and included in my plan that I would require a partner to start where I was then.
But that was okay, because I took from that experience that a board of entrepreneurs had said my idea had huge potential!
So I adjusted my plan to work my way up through the photography courses, once completing my HND I intend to get a job as a photographer whilst studying a BAhons in photography then use that to gain access to studying a BAhons in Art Therapy thus having the necessary qualifications to implement the rest of my dream! All the time building up those very important contacts and business relations!
Those light bulb moments continued when I volunteered at MAF got interviewed and went through their volunteer training, I started to understand just how much my passion for photography could be used to help others!
At the same time at college I was nearing the end of my course, one of our final assessments was to do a reportage series of at least ten images telling a story visually. I decided that I wanted to explore the thoughts and feelings of life after a traumatic experience, with the support of my passionate and enthusiastic lecturer I embraced the project with my daughter and her friend.
The reportage was yet another powerful experience that showed me the potential of Photographic therapy and also became the foundations of my Personal Photographic Project called the Fortitude Project. The potential of which is explosive!
Whilst Photography is my passion, my lifestyle, and my tool to better my family's financial situation, Photographic Therapy, volunteering and The #FortitudeProject will be how I aim to help other people!
I have had some amazing amount of support from those around me, their continuing enthusiasm and faith in my ideas and ability to implement them have played a massive part in silencing my fears and doubts, encouraging me to dream big and think positive!
I hate my photo taken.. I reluctantly relent to the odd photo and #sillyselfies so there is a physical record of me for my children when they need it! But I know how therapeutic photography is! If I intend to share that with the world then perhaps I should experience that to its full extent! My hatred of #selfportraits is perhaps something I should better understand and even challenge. I had talked about exploring my #fortitudeproject further by doing some #selfportraits Perhaps its time I stop talking about it and do it! @ateenangelscry @amethystelphotography"