PTSD – Confronting Trauma in Front of the Lens

PTSD – Confronting Trauma in Front of the Lens

Posttraumatic stress disorder, more commonly known as PTSD, can be a debilitating condition, making it nearly impossible for some people to even leave their homes, let alone be comfortable enough to strip down naked in front of a camera.

And yet, at Allebach Photography, some of our strongest and most badass clients are people living with PTSD to help take back their lives and give their PTSD a big “F You.”

Affecting an estimated 44.7 million people around the world (according to PTSDUnited.org), PTSD is a mental health condition that can occur after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal attacks.

For many, symptoms include nightmares or unwanted memories of the trauma, avoidance of situations that bring back memories of the trauma, heightened reactions, insomnia, panic attacks, anxiety, and/or depression.

“I do not do well in public, around anyone I don’t know. I struggle in stores often leaving a cart full of items and leave the store. I have serious driving issues… flashing lights bother me, I could honestly go on for days about my issues,” says Joe, a recent client of Allebach Photography whose name has been changed to respect his privacy.

Despite such daily struggles that can make social interactions with strangers difficult, the former U.S. Army soldier insisted that he and his wife do a couple’s boudoir session.

“I was actually the one who pushed the subject. I knew she’d be on board the moment I brought it up. She is my rock and has my back through everything,” said Joe.

He continued, “The day of the appointment I was nervous not knowing Mike, not knowing the area – I was completely out of my comfort zone. My wife had me from the second we walked in the door. Mike and the whole crew made me feel at ease.”

Studies have shown for years that therapeutic photography (self-initiative photo-based activities) can have lasting positive effects on our mental health.

“People are using therapeutic photography techniques to help themselves and others overcome depression, anxiety, chronic pain and much more,” says Bryce Evans, founder, and CEO of The One Project (the photography community for people suffering from depression and anxiety.

A 2014 study found that those who took part in creating visual art had a significant increase in Psychological Resiliency. The neurotransmitter dopamine can be increased through this process, which can be lacking in those suffering from depression and has been found to immediately start to help prevent depressive-like behaviors.

For Joe, doing a couple’s session with his wife was first and foremost about capturing his love for the person who’s been there through it all with him. The therapeutic benefits were just an added bonus.  

“It totally showed you what our love looks like from the outside in. We look at the pictures and can’t help but smile because we truly are madly in love with each other,” he said.

Joe admits he struggles daily with PTSD, but that getting out there in front of a stranger with a camera was a great experience.

“I did it, I made it through it, had a blast, enjoyed every minute there. I could never do this without my wife. We had fun, made friends, and plan to do this many times over despite my anxiety.”

Looking to say “F you” to your anxieties or PTSD? Contact us to today to book your session at 610.539.6920 or visit our website at https://allebachphotography.com/contact.