Photography as Therapy

Taking pictures is savouring life intensely, every hundredth of a second. ~ Marc Riboud

This quote clearly captures what photography has done for me since my diagnosis of Breast Cancer, two years ago. I believe that when faced with a life-threatening illness, you can either try to make the most of life, “savouring it intensely,” or you can feel sorry for yourself and be miserable. I have chosen to live my life to the fullest.

I have always loved taking pictures. From as far back as my early days in school, I would constantly capture with my camera, any subject which intrigued me. My love for photography travelled with me on family vacations, special occasions, to university and back home upon graduation. The births of my daughters years later, provided an excuse to whip out the camera and chronicle their every waking moment (to their annoyance and dismay) and they were relieved when I would become absorbed in capturing nature or events, deflecting my camera’s focus from them.

I believe that being an avid amateur photographer over the years has transformed my vision. I automatically frame scenes in my head before looking through the camera lens and then capture what I have seen with the camera. My technical skills may not be up to par, but for me conveying emotion through my lens can be as important as technique. I am constantly learning.

After I was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago, I found myself pursuing things I loved: hiking, visiting new places…and photography. If I had to choose only one area as the subject for my camera lens, it would be nature. Beauty that we see every day in a sunrise or sunset, in waves crashing on shore or the vibrancy of a newly-hued bloom, compel me to capture each and every moment. However that is not enough if I am the only person who sees them. It is more important for me to share with others so they too can appreciate the beauty of the moment.

I experience what I call my “photographer’s high” when the sun peeps over the mountains, and the early morning sky morphs into a range of hues that are as fleeting as a breath of air, but no less wondrous in its brevity. It is at times like these I know that I am blessed and I have no thoughts of gloom or impending death.

Everyday occurrences such as the fisherman tossing his net in the water, and women washing clothes at the riverside while their children splash in the river, are transformed from being mundane tasks to intriguing slices of life which can define a nation’s core. I also have a fascination with graves and graveyards, not because I am eager to join their residents, but because there are so many “buried” stories waiting to be unearthed.

It is in capturing moments through the camera’s lens, I am filled with comfort and purpose, leaving no room for self-pity and despair. There are far too many treasures out there that I have not yet seen…or shared.

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