Camera Therapy: How Photography Gave Me Hope Again

Camera Therapy: How Photography Gave Me Hope Again


The following is by a dPS reader – Shaun. It started as an email to me from him – however it was so powerful that I convinced him to allow us to publish it as a post. I hope that he might also one day let me convince him to share some of his photos too! Please Share this! – Darren

Shaun’s Story

In June of 2009 I was involved in a serious traffic accident that left me in a coma for several weeks and unable to walk or use my left arm. The list of injuries I have are longer than I can include here and so the last 2 years of my life have largely been spent for me in hospital or rehabilitation centres.

Much of my past life is a distant memory – things I used to take for granted and do without thinking take hours of effort to achieve, friendships have changed as I’ve become reliant upon others to survive and for a long time I lived without much hope. Depression became a state I lived in 24/7.

Camera Therapy

Around 6 months ago, and as part of my rehabilitation, my therapist suggested that I try to introduce something creative into my life. I think he was just trying to get me to think of something outside of my situation. He suggested painting but also mentioned in passing another patient who had taken up photography.

Being a techy guy (in my past life) I liked the idea of getting a camera and after a lot of research purchased a small four thirds format camera (a Panasonic GF1). I wanted a DSLR but due to their size and my limited movement (I do everything with one hand) I went for a lighter and smaller camera.

I also spent a heap of time on your website since buying the camera. I’ve not taken photos before but dPS has taught me a lot!

Over the last 6 months my life has changed a lot. Physically I’m improving a little – although still live life in a wheelchair and am very restricted in my movement – but emotionally I’m a different guy and much of it is a result of photography.

My Photographic Challenges

Pictured: Photographer using the 'Mount Mover'

There are a lot of challenges to take a simple photo for me. For example:

  • Getting to a location to photograph can be tough – I like street photography and landscapes and much of my life is confined to my small apartment or rehab centres.
  • Keeping my camera still – I ended up getting a small Tripod attachment welded by a friend to my wheelchair which has helped me a lot. Now my camera is in front of me any time I’m in my chair. I’ve since found purpose made mounts for wheelchairs and have just ordered one (the Mount Mover) – this will also enable me to consider a DSLR.
  • Just taking a shot – when I’m out with other photographers I notice that they are able to take a lot of shots from different angles and compositions that I’m not able to get.

How Photography Gives Me Hope

However despite the challenges photography has made me feel alive again. It has become a very therapeutic thing.

  • It gives me something to think about that is not related to my pain or injuries.
  • It gives me motivation to get well again.
  • It takes me out of sitting alone in my apartment.
  • It has given me dreams for the future.
  • It has given me a social interaction with other photographers (online and in real life).

My photos are not as technically brilliant as many of your authors – but that’s not what photography is about for me. For me it is a part of getting well and celebrating life, something I never thought I’d do again.

A Tip for Able Bodied Photographers

One ‘tip’ that I’d like to give other photographers is to ‘SLOW DOWN’. One of the bonuses of living my life is that nothing happens fast. As a result I see a lot more than I think many other photographers do. I also am forced to consider every element of my shot – composition, light, settings etc.

I see a lot of photographers racing around to get their shots. Not considering what they’re seeing and just snapping off a heap of shots very quickly and racing on to their next location. I suspect a lot of photographers could learn a great deal by slowing down.

If you have a story (big or small) about how photography has given you hope we’d LOVE to hear it in comments below.

Read more from our category

Guest Contributor This post was written by a guest contributor to dPS.
Please see their details in the post above.

Become a Contributor: Check out Write for DPS page for details about how YOU can share your photography tips with the DPS community.

Some Older Comments

  • shane January 20, 2012 10:52 am

    thanks for sharing those words of inspiration. i hope to achieve a lot this year more so than previous years

  • Jane Marcelino December 2, 2011 10:42 am

    A very inspiring and touching story. Thanks for sharing. It inspired me to get back to my photography again to celebrate life and capture it through lens. Hope you get well soon so you can share more pictures and spread hope to others who might be in the same situation. Happy clicking!

  • Emily November 30, 2011 03:25 pm

    this story is so touching, i completly understand where Shaun is coming from.
    In the past 2 years photography has become one of the most important aspects of my life.
    Whenever i've had a crappy day at work or been sick or feeling awful all i have to do is pick up my camera and start snapping to begin to feel better, seeing my world through a my camera has made life feel wonderful again when before it wasn;t even bareable.

  • Davina November 23, 2011 07:48 pm

    This is a great example of someone overcoming adversity. I salute you Shaun. I am sure that now your creative juices have started to flow you are going to move forward in leaps and bounds - careful you don't tip the wheel chair over though.
    You maybe able to take photos from different angles. I believe you can get a tripod with a reversible column so that when you turn it around and attach the camera, you can get shots at ground level. I think Manfrotto may make them.
    Do you use a programme to 'tidy up' your images? Check out our website for ideas on how we might be able to help you.
    Best wishes for the future, Davina and Caroline.

  • Patty November 3, 2011 09:06 am

    Thank you Shaun! Your article is absolutely a keeper for the many people I work with who need to get out of themselves and their circumstances and into something creative.

    A had a very close friend who was the slowest photographer I ever knew. He won the Kodak International competitions a few times, won trips to Hawaii and elsewhere, and made the most beautiful images I've ever seen. There is great truth in your advice!

  • Patty November 3, 2011 09:05 am

    Thank you Shaun! Your article is absolutely a keeper for the many people I work with who need to get out of themselves and their circumstances and into something creative.

    A had a very close friend who was the slowest photographer I ever knew. He won the Kodak International competitions a few times, won trips to Hawaii and elsewhere, and made the most beautiful images I've ever seen. Therei s great truth in your advice!

  • Ashwin November 3, 2011 12:40 am

    Shaun..I was impressed by your story and being a beginner myself, I can relate to how well photography acts as a stimulant..Life is always gives back something than to what it has taken...Cheers and thanks for sharing your story.

  • CatWalker November 2, 2011 04:31 am


    Such a beautiful, inspiring story! And such fabulous advice about just slowing down... So happy that photography is able to do for you what it does for so many of us; lift us up to a better place. You are right that it is not always about being technically brilliant; I believe that photography (any type) conveys emotions. If I feel something when I view a photo, then in my mind it is great, no matter how it was taken or with what equipment. Keep shooting what makes your heart sing! Also, please share some of your work!

    Peace and blessings,

  • James Kelly November 2, 2011 12:18 am

    I would love to see your pictures Shaun, do you have a link where they can be viewed?

    There are alot technically advanced photographers who shoot only marginal pictures. It has been my experience that a great picture comes from a sharp eye, and an open heart.

    Keep shooting.

  • suresh narayanan November 1, 2011 06:15 am

    Hi Shaun
    Quite happy to know that photography gives you a new dimension! I am thankful for all the advancement in technology and healthcare facilities which help us all to tread into better options of creativity and self explorations. Me too a great beneficiary in dividing deeper into the ecstasy of visions of image-making at a late age and I am happy to discover more and more!

  • Jeremy October 31, 2011 10:37 pm

    Its good to hear a story like Shaun's even though the circumstances that led to his discovery of photography are far from what I would wish for anyone. I certainly agree with him on slowing down. My photography has certainly suffered from hurrying too much and is one of the major factors for not getting shots you imagine when getting to a location. Thanks Shaun.

  • samhitha October 31, 2011 10:45 am

    Dear Shaun,

    Very inspiring..Please share your works!!!

  • Jo Reason October 31, 2011 03:12 am

    Very powerful story, thanks so much to Shaun for sharing.

  • Janna October 30, 2011 08:44 am

    Thank you for sharing your inspirational story. It's true that when things get a bit too much there's nothing like grabbing the camera and getting out of the house! I hope you get the confidence to share your shots with us, too. I'm sure they're special.

  • altaa October 30, 2011 06:34 am

    Dear Shaun

    Having fun is the best theray and it is brilliant that you chose photography I just stepped up my photography (from a point and shoo to a DSLR) to add some "a feel good" to my life.

    Thanks for sharing the information on the camera mount that attaches to your wheelchair. I hope that I can either import it or get a skilled South African to start a business

  • Michael Ward October 30, 2011 12:13 am

    Sean, my Grandfather, Nowell Ward, and my father Robert Ward were both professional photographers. They had many accolades through their lives. My Grandfather was a portrait photographer who won many awards with his pictures and wrote two books on photography, and my Dad was an architectural photographer with many big clients, like A.C.Nielson. I'm more into nature, because of the randomness and beauty of it. I have found that photography has been great therapy for me, as I suffer from an anxiety disorder. I can't say weather it's better or worse than a physical issue, but let me tell you it's a daily struggle for me as I'm sure it is for you. Photography is a great way to show expression, and it's also a form of therapy and creativity that most people wouldn't understand. Stay positive, and keep up the good work!!

  • erving October 29, 2011 06:10 pm

    Shaun, you have given a very good example of what photography can bring to us. I always believe that a great photographer is not just able to take pretty photos, but also inspires and influences other people. What kind of gears and camera settings are not important, the most vital part is the spirit and dedication behind the camera.

    Please share your works to us so as to heal and encourage our mind.

  • prasad October 29, 2011 06:05 pm

    Hey everyone,
    Your stories have been truly inspirational. Shaun, wishing you a speedy recovery. Thanks for the advice of slowing down.

    Sincere thanks,
    Prasad Churi.

  • Starshooter October 29, 2011 03:36 pm


    Thank you!
    There is a time comming when you will have a whole body back, better than your youth.

  • patti October 29, 2011 12:56 pm

    Oh I am so thankful you found photography therapeutic and creativity is revisiting you. God bless you, and prayers for continued healing and help. ?

    Where can I sign up to participate in the 365 challenge?

    I have recently gone through breast cancer, definitely can feel the depression many of you are going through. I know nothing about cameras, lenses, taking pictures or the what-to-do..I recently bought a Nikon D3000, and have no idea if I bought wisely or not.

  • Yocko October 29, 2011 12:46 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story and thanks for the great tip, it really helped me. Best wishes for you.

  • Sylvia @ From the Heart October 29, 2011 12:15 pm

    Shaun, I applaud you! Photography is a new found passion for me. I've realized I NEED it in my life. It helps me see my world with my heart and has helped me be grateful and appreciate life.

    I work at a pediatric orthopaedic hospital and am forwarding this as a recommendation for our patients. I believe photography can also help them celebrate life in ways they never imagined.

    Thank you.

  • Paula Mann October 29, 2011 11:32 am

    Great story, I too was led to photography by illness. I suffer from Environmental illness, things like perfumes, soaps, air fresheners, fumes from auto and the list goes on, make me very sick. I know what it is like to have to change the way you live your life. It is very hard emotionally. Photography has helped me also to take my mind off my pain both physical and emotional. I like photographing lots of different things but I specialize in pets, I love working with them it is so rewarding. I struggle every day with my illness but with photography I realize there is something I can accomplish in spite of my illness, it is a challenge that keeps me going.
    Do publish your photographs, would love to see them.I have a cocker spanial, she has been my model since she was five weeks old she is now fourteen. To view my photos check them out at

  • Fredrick October 29, 2011 07:11 am

    Shaun, you've inspired me and I thank you for that. It's therapeutic looking through the viewfinder and forgetting about everything else in the world. This weekend I am fortunate enough to head to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia and will be capturing the last of the fall color for the year. And I'm taking your advice... slow down and really consider what I'm seeing.

    Thank you for your story and I wish you the best.

  • Ross meldrum October 29, 2011 04:23 am

    Obviously photography can be so much more than simply taking pictures. Its encouraging to read all of these comments and know that we are not alone, and can share in each others struggles and provide encouragement. I have taken to following my own version of the 365 idea. I have a new house being built across the street and I have been trying to take a photo everyday or every few days of its construction, from the exact same spot. I then hope to be able to create a slideshow of its construction.

  • wayne west October 29, 2011 02:33 am

    shaun - i wish i had you for a neighbor. i had my voice box removed 15 yrs ago and about 5 or so yrs ago i got a computer and then a digital camera soon followed. i now communicate soo much more and i don't feel shut out nearly as is the highlight of my life now. it is ever evolving and thats the best part.there are so many types of photography to choose from. lots of contests out there too. thanks for letting us hear your story. best regards, wayne

  • Keith October 29, 2011 02:27 am

    Thank you DPS for posting this. I was diagnosed with brain cancer several years ago just on the cusp of beginning a Masters Degree. After intensive radiation and brain surgery - I came out of the ordeal somewhat damaged to the extent that although I returned to the my studies I soon realized it was not a wise choice. I left the studies not knowing where things were going to go. Severe depression and a sense of failure set in.
    I've always had an innate quality of framing things - that "wouldn't this make a great picture" element which lends itself to painting and specifically photography. In a nutshell, in the past couple of years photography has allowed me to wade through waters of uncertainty. Not knowing where it was going to lead and taking it one day at a time within my new context... I've come somewhat full circle seeing the health challenge as a blessing. I've tapped into a whole side of my being that was either dormant or not allowed to flourish. Online resources such as DPS, flickr, the numerous tutorials for cameras and post processing have allowed me to take this at my pace and I treat it as my university at home. And the results never cease to amaze me and I am grateful.
    You have an inspiring story Shaun. Thanks for sharing - keep shooting!~

  • PeterHermit October 29, 2011 12:46 am

    Shaun, Thank you for sharing.
    It helped put some perspective on things for me today.

  • LParent October 28, 2011 11:54 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    I especially like your tip to slow down. I am often times that guy running around between work and family obligations. The part I enjoy most about photography is that it helps me slow down and see the moment and really see the beauty that is in world around us.


  • Nathaniel October 28, 2011 10:52 pm

    Inspiring story.
    I became serious about photography immediately after being diagnosed with juvenile macular degeneration, color blindness and DVD strabismus in 2007. Similar to what Shaun said, photography helped me get my mind off how bad my vision was.

  • Raija Silvennoinen October 28, 2011 10:27 pm

    I´m very thankfull for your story and recovery. You have your style to take photos, I have mine. It can help us to see more and understand more about us, other people and about world. That´s great. - and to read that photografying has helpt your so much. But you has the ability to activate your creativity, may be with somebody.

  • Joanna Baker October 28, 2011 10:07 pm

    Amazing story!!

    You are a true inspiration and reading this has made me realise, anyone can you anything if they put their minds to it.

    Keep up the fantastic dream and thank you.....


  • T.Alan Kirk October 28, 2011 09:49 pm

    Good for you Shawn. I am encouraged by how you took the challenge to fight depression and "focus" on something else (no pun intended.) That goes for the rest of you too that have written with the similar challenges and the same spirit of overcoming. Good for you! You can give others hope and a reason to press on. Let the world see your work and hear your stories.
    I own a small digital art & photo printing business / gallery, and have been encouraging our local artists and photographers to put their work out there for people to see. We have a blind man that does pottery, a woman who just started painting in her mid 70's, another older lady who took up carving to fight panic attacks. And they all are quite good at what they are producing. I'd encourage all of you, to get your visions through photography and your story of hope, out there and up on the walls for people to see. We all need each others encouragement.
    Thanks for sharing your story Shawn.

  • Charles J Dukes October 28, 2011 04:59 pm

    A great contribution to this network, Shawn, and I hope you're able to do all you want to do.
    But I wouldn't worry so much about not being able to "get to the angles" the able-bodied can. Although, I can still get around at age 63, my mountain-climbing and skydiving days are well at an end. I'm good for only about an hour prowling around a shopping mall. And getting off the paved highway or walking down a mountain instead of taking a cable car are not nearly as enticing as they once were.
    Still, there's plenty to shoot in what ever is available to me, wherever I can get to.
    Telling your story, as you've started here, is a valuable contribution, probably the most valuable thing any artist can do.
    Thanks for sharing it.

  • Dumblabrat October 28, 2011 04:25 pm

    Bravo Shaun, I salute you and your determination. People like you are such an inspiration to those of us who take our health and bodies for granted.
    Wishing you a speedy recovery and many momentous years of photography.

  • Alan October 28, 2011 04:22 pm

    It is absolutely Stunning, overwhelming and humbling the amount of comments that have been put up in reply to Shaun's Post, the amount of Love and Compassion we have for our fellow human beings is quite amazing ... it reaffirms my faith in humanity - i just wish we could all show a little more love, compassion and respect to nature and wildlife - Darren, posting up 'Shaun's Story' was the beginning of something BIG for DPS it will take you to undreamed of heights, Shaun is very obviously an inspiration to many people and Darren so too are you for publishing this amazing story of 'Triumph over Adversity'. It does put my 'Disability' into perspective, and although it is a disability and i have days that i literally cannot move and i'm bed-bound, i am truly blessed to be able to get around on my own two legs (most of the time)!!! Thank you Shaun and Darren and DPS ... We would dearly love to see your work Shaun.
    Also it just confirms my long held suspicions that us Photographers (in general), whether amateur or pro are a BLOODY GOOD BUNCH OF PEOPLE!!!

  • Griselda October 28, 2011 12:37 pm

    Your article has put me to shame. I was recently diagnosed with diabetis and with two small kids I fell into deep dipression when all the complications this illness can bring. In the last two years I purchased a D40x and began taking photography classes with the community center in my town and then my husband upgraded me to a D90. After my diagnosis I gave up the classes, put away the cameras, and was angry and depressed . . . . actually I think I still am. I thought why study something for which I need to see when I will go blind with this illness....... again, your article has put me to shame . . . . . right now I can still get around and still see to continue my classes . . . .. . your article made me realize I was giving up and Shaun with his limitations is finding ways to take better pictures . . . . you are an inspiration . . . . . I've picked up my camera again and have just enrolled in another class . . . . . Thanks for sharing.


  • photobrit October 28, 2011 12:07 pm

    Thank you Shaun for sharing your story.
    For us Photographers who run around from shot to shot with out taking in the view .
    I agree with you that we need to slow down to take in the view and take pictures.
    I belong to a club where competition is the main focus and I had falling into the trap of taking a pictures of what I think would win and not what I want to take. I lost interest stop taking pictures for 6 months because I was not happy with what I was taking plus there was other issues.
    With a the encouragement of a good friend in Florida ,who's going through the same thing.... I made the decision to take pictures of what I Like and not to worry about if the judge is going to like it or not and I have found freedom in taking my pictures.
    last weekend a friend and I went on a trip with our cameras drove and took lots of pictures, it was a blast.
    Photography is good therapy ...
    Thank you Shaun for that gem of Advice .
    I like to add one more ... Find a place , woods , beach, river, park,open field etc etc look around you with your own eyes do a 360 turn , Take it in , then bring the camera up and take your pictures ...
    Thanks again Shaun for telling your Story . I hope we get to see some of your work soon

  • photogrl2020 October 28, 2011 11:55 am

    I totally relate to this article as well. As an essentially wheelchair-bound person myself (as in, outside my home-I get around in my house by paddling myself on a skateboard while laying on my stomach), as well as a little person, I have lots of physical restraints to get over to be able to do things. As a little person, my arms and legs are unusually short, so it makes it VERY difficult to reach things. And I've been practically wheelchair-bound since I was about 6-and I'm 19 (almost 20) now's been a while! But I've been into photography since 7th grade and I just love it! My dad built me a tripod out of one of those flexible lights that you clamp onto a desk or whatever. So I just clamp it onto my wheelchair armrest and I'm good to go! I also have a special wheelchair that allows me to elevate the seat about a foot or so, so I'm able to be almost eye level with people (almost!) and it also lowers to the ground so I can actually get around pretty well now (only had this chair for about a yr so far-before it was just a regular wheelchair that I'd had since I was like 6) and it's making a big difference in my photos. I'm really getting into macro photography now.

    Anyway, I loved this article, and I read through the comments so far and it sounds like there's a good bunch of us who have this therapeutic/wheelchair photography thing in common. I didn't expect so many people to have this in common. Darren, is there any way we can start some sort of group or something? I think that would be great! At the very least, I'd be interested in keeping in touch with you, Shawn-if you'd like. :-)

    And yes, I'm going to be the 100th (or whatever) person to say, Shawn, we want to see your photos!! ;-)

  • Richard October 28, 2011 11:38 am

    That is an awesome story. Thank you for enriching our lives. Best to you!

  • Jess October 28, 2011 11:36 am

    I can very much relate to this story. I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease in spring of 2008. In July of 2008 I started doing portraiture and it is my emotional therapy. There are days that the illness prevents me from doing anything with my camera, but on the days when life is hard, I know I can get out and shoot something and feel better.

  • Ray Rhodes October 28, 2011 11:04 am

    I wish you all the best and a speedy recovery .... I have been treated to photography therapy as well. Our son passed away two year ago ....I had just started into photography prior to that ..... it gave me something creative ... building something up... the total opposite of death let me focus (pun) on the beauty of nature .. the beauty all around .... when I think back during that time all those early mornings looking for locations ..the time alone .... it did help me get life into perspective heal added something else to my photographs ..true emotion ... all of it has made me a better man and photographer ... thanks again

  • OzMerican October 28, 2011 11:01 am

    When we separated, I ended up all alone except for my Jack Russell Terrier. He was a life line that meant I didn't come home to a cold empty house after work.
    After retiring, I spent seven months fixing up our motorhome, then we spent two years seeing Oz. That dog has been everywhere including Tasmania, except Western Australia.
    Sadly I lost him on July 2011 just before he turned eleven while travelling. For ten years he was my only companion and we did everything together. He even featured in National Dog magazine, sitting on the tank of my Suzuki GSXR600R where he rode for six years.
    Losing him was truly a life changing experience that left me dazed and without motivation.
    Deciding to take my PAS photography to another level, I dived into DSLR with an exponential learning curve - film was never that complicated. The exercise has been successful in the bridging the gap he left in my life.
    I know I can't have him back and the hundreds of photos I have of him will always be a reminder, so he will always have my heart, while the DSLR photography is helping me to move on. Good mates would want that for each other. Thanks Shaun.

  • Craig Ruhl October 28, 2011 10:56 am

    Thank you for this post Shaun! After reading your note I realize 2 things. One, I have no more excuses. Period. Two, I do need to slow down and consider not just what I am shooting but also why I am taking the shot. A lot to consider.

  • Glenn October 28, 2011 10:34 am

    Thank you for sharing Shaun & all the best. I've have had a chronic illness for a number of years now & enjoyed photography longer still. Depression is an associated condition with my illness. Lately it's been worse but to pick up the camera & go for a walk is far more therapeutic than I ever realized when I had good health. It doesn't cure the illness but gives you a sense of achievement or accomplishment that certainly lifts the spirit.

  • Daphne October 28, 2011 10:25 am

    Thank you for sharing your story.
    It was very close to home for me having been in a MVA 18 months ago.
    Whilst my injuries to my spine are not a serious as yours, My passion for photography as certainly been a big part in me getting out of bed each day.
    I think now the emotional pain of putting down the camera, would hurt much more than the physical pain I endure everyday, especially when taking photos.
    All the best with your future in health and photography :)

  • Verena Fischer October 28, 2011 10:07 am

    Very moving story, all the best to you Shaun! I also used photography in a therapeutic way when I used to suffer from depression. Then a couple of years ago it turned out that my depression was caused by coeliac disease and it just vanished after changing my diet. Interesting enough without the depression it felt like I had lost all my creativity. Before my depression vanished I didn't realise how much my photography was fueled just by suffering. It took me a long time to find inspiration again, but finally I feel not only stable but also creative. I'm still chronically ill and due to my illness I can't travel easily or eat food that hasn't been prepared with care. I'm also still in pain regularly, but after a few years I have sort of adjusted to this life. Nowadays photography is therapeutic for me in a different way: It's not expressing my suffering anymore, but rather it helps me feel like a real person again. The person that is left when you subtract illness and pain.

  • Alan October 28, 2011 09:59 am

    An inspirational story from an Inspirational person, thank you Shaun, get well, stay strong my friend!
    I too have health issues, nowhere near as severe as yours, but i am limited to what i can do and i am on a permanent disability, with fortnightly payments from Centrelink, i have a Wife (my carer) and four beautiful children, my camera and photography in general is to me, also therapeutic.
    As you said Shaun, Slow Down, it changes your perspective on a lot of things, you notice a lot more and therefore get photo's that others may not capture.
    Thank you for sharing your story Shaun, Take care man.

  • Joan H October 28, 2011 09:51 am

    sorry Shaun... spelt your name wrong, .... realized just as I hit the go button!

  • Joan H October 28, 2011 09:50 am

    Thank you Shuan for your post. It comes at a very relevant time for me. I just lost my only child to suicide last Friday. He was 40, so not a youngster, and despite having been away from home for 23 years, he still was my child. The only way I have remained somewhat sane over the past few days, is photography... not taking, but visiting site like this (thank you Darren, I am a faithful reader), and re-editing old stuff.

    You are an inspiration, I only wish John (my son) had an outlet like you (he was far more creative than he realized), he may still be here today

  • Robert October 28, 2011 09:45 am

    What a Great story and hope the best for your future.

    I also had a life changing event, 9 years ago my wife died at 35 and left to young children for me to raise. This took everything away from me and turned my life upside down. Depression you bet but I knew it was there so the boys encouraged me to go and do things I liked. I picked up my camera and began shooting my kids, then comes 7th through 12 grade basketball and my life was back on track. I don't know what it is? But it works. I love challenges and Night landscape photography is what I love. Whats more Ironic is that I run across this article on this day that would have been our 26 anniversary. I have worn out 3 cameras and now shoot with a 7d and a 5dmii. My challenge to you is to do a better picture today then you were able to do yesterday and never quit. Good luck to all. Life is good again

  • Lisa October 28, 2011 09:39 am

    Hi Shaun.

    You and I have some things in common and it was such a relief and another surge of hope to read your entry. While I am not confined to a wheelchair for physical reasons, I am confined because of cardiac and neurological reasons. It has been 4 years for me and what I have learned is that I am the only one in North America with this particular set of symptoms with no actual diagnosis, no cure, and limited treatment options. If any of us have empathy at all, I have a tiny understanding of your pain and discomfort.

    I loved your message to slow down. When I was able-bodied, I used to run around like that and go from special place to special place looking for unique shots. Yesterday, I spent over an hour working with a package of crayons and aperture settings to learn a little more and I got a couple of favourites out of the lot. Not award winnning but ones that I like and that I can share with friends and family! Now that I have "different strengths" (my term for my situation), I have found my camera to be a healing tool and one that has provided much escape from the drudery and depression of being limited in ways you were not before.

    Keep smiling Shaun!
    PS. Have you thought about doing self-portraiture. I had a friend who did a 365 day photo challenge where some part of her body had to be in every photo she published in her Blog. It was amazing. Some day, you might not have as much furniture as you do now. It probably doesn't seem like something hopeful to photograph but for me I think that I see progress of myself in photos that I didn't see with just everyday eyes. Also, I ended up photographing myself in comfortable positions which helps to remind me what would be comfortable when it all seems overwhelming.

    I would love to see your photos someday!

  • Janice La Mere Hackney October 28, 2011 09:32 am

    I am struggling with health also. I am creating a circle on Google+ for those who are interesting in sharing and supporting each other as we heal. My camera and the community on Google+ is saving my sanity. If you do decide to connect with me there, please let me know you came from this blog site, and I will add you to the circle.

    Its interesting, because the reason I found this site is because I am starting to try to learn Ps, and my camera, better. I am a strong advocate for Camera Therapy.

    DPS, sorry If this is inappropriate please just delete :)

    Shaun, thank you for sharing.

  • Gigi October 28, 2011 09:25 am

    Thanks, Shaun, for sharing and I pray for the best for you in your recovery. I look forward to seeing your work, particularly, all of the pics the rest of us missed as we rushed along!!! ;)

  • ken deitcher October 28, 2011 09:25 am

    Congratulations and best to Shaun' future in photography.
    I am 83 years old and have been an amateur photographer for over 60 years.
    At the present time I can't walk due to arthritis and need a walker to get around. I still do my photography by recycling my old images and try to photograph from my car.
    I still drive with hand controls and enter photo competitions weekly on the internet and in local competitions.
    It is very stimulating and keeps my mind active.
    I write many articles of a photographic nature for the Photographic Society of America and my local camera club, the Schenectady Photo Society.

  • Angie J October 28, 2011 09:23 am

    Thank you so very, very much for sharing your story. A wonderful story that reminds those of us who are "able-bodied" to not take anything for granted and to SLOW DOWN. As you ended your story and reminded us to slow down - I could not help but chuckle because that is one of my biggest problems. I don't often slow down enough to think of the composition, all the elements...
    Thank you again, Shaun! God bless!

  • alen October 28, 2011 09:01 am

    I was very impressed from your story . Photography save you for loneliness and isolement on your house . I know this when I came back from the war I close me in my house between four wall and when I BEGIN photography , I begin to live again . I go out to the street and I was happy again . I agreed to that photography was therapy and hope for well being . I hope for you to become a great photographer .

  • G~ October 28, 2011 08:42 am

    BEST dps post yet!!! -- Great story and comments .. For me personal, as a recovering addict/alcoholic... photography's been a great distraction. It keeps me grounded, everyday and nearly one year sober ... ; )

  • Shasta October 28, 2011 08:19 am

    Thank you for sharing your story! Photography has also helped me get through tough times, that's why I picked it up about two years ago. Recently, I was without my DSLR for two months and I actually found myself starting to get depressed. Now that I've been reunited with it, I feel like I'm in love again. :) It's a great feeling.

  • Johannes Compaan October 28, 2011 08:17 am

    I was very touched by Shaun's story and I can only imagine what photography must mean for him now. I myself have found a new life through photography. After my divorce in Portugal a few years ago, I took of to Brazil with 1.500 euro in my pocket, a laptop and my camera. After having spend the money, I transformed my camera into a means of income. Ever since, I have been able to develop the beginning of a tiny career and I have managed to survive on photography, something that had been a wish of mine for many years.
    I always read the tips for the weekend. Keep up the good work.
    Good luck to you Shaun! I really hope you''ll be able to enjoy life again, even though in a different way.

  • Shirley October 28, 2011 08:05 am

    What a great story! Even though I have loved photography since I was a kid and take family photos galore, I was hit by an emotional "tsunami" two years ago when a son left his family. My happy family was shattered, and I stopped taking photos except of my beloved four grandchildren. I lost interest in photography until I discovered that there was a Great Blue Heron rookery within walking distance of my downtown office. Wow - what an amazing treasure trove it became. My Canon DSLR came to life, and I shifted my "focus" from family to wildlife. Through it God spoke to me that if He can take such amazing care of these animals, He can surely take care of my family. Peace descended, and I have a fantastic collection of wildlife.

  • Louise October 28, 2011 07:40 am

    Shaun, your story couldn't have come to me at a better time. I've been depressed as of late and, therefore, taking less photos... I tend to drop everything when I feel this way. You have inspired me to quit work early today and go take photos. Of anything!

    Thank you.

  • Kirk October 28, 2011 07:33 am

    Dude, you are certainly an inspiration and i wish you God's blessings.

  • Karen Day-Lyon, RN October 28, 2011 07:23 am

    I am more or less in a wheelchair all of the time for the past six to eight months, because of some auto-immune disease that no one can pin a name to. I was a fairly prolific photographer before this happened, but have been having to relearn how to take images from a lower angle, without getting extraneous content into them. It has been a challenge, believe me, but a very worthwhile one, as it gives me a sense that better things will be coming. I have recently sold some of my "wheelchair images" as I call them, for quite good prices, so I have that to look forward to, as well. This post has been very inspiring to me. Thanks for including it.

  • Kenneth Larsen October 28, 2011 06:51 am

    Thank's for sharing your store Shaun.
    I wish the best for you :-)

  • Cristina October 28, 2011 06:38 am


    Just wanted to say I have a similar experience in the sense I suffer from depression too and that photography has been and is very important in that I have to focus on the image alone when I take pictures and is absolutely necessary to forget everything else. Also I consider it as a form of meditation and a way to see and in a way "create" the beauty of life. Thank you for sharing your experience and good luck in getting better, you are not alone.

  • Alexis Yael October 28, 2011 04:14 am

    This is great!

    My story about therapeutic photography is really my son's: he is 5 and on the autism spectrum. Photography (either with a point and shoot or now with my iPod touch) has been a really great medium for him to express how he sees his world. Unlike you, he is a *fast* shooter (as in pretty much everything in his life, he is go go go, as only a five year old with all the energy in the world can be). But his point of view is spectacular, to me.

    Actually, my interest/ love of photography really started happening around when we first started noticing our son's differences and photography (especially photography R and his world and seeing him and his beauty through the lens) got me through a lot of rough patches in his earlier years, too, when his behaviors were a lot rougher to parent and he had less speech. So, therapeutic photography is part of my life, too.

    Thanks for sharing your story, Shaun (and to Darren for publishing it!).

  • Joe P October 28, 2011 03:25 am

    This is a truly amazing and inspiring story. I've been dealing with depression for many years now. During my dark times I have a hard time feeling the creativity to go out and shoot. Reading your story Shaun has changed my mind attitude, at those times maybe that's when I should be doing something creative.

    Also, I'd love to see the work of someone so inspiring!

    Thanks for the story and hope.

  • v October 28, 2011 02:00 am

    thanks for sharing your story. all the best to you

  • Natasha October 28, 2011 02:00 am

    What a brilliant story. I am so deeply inspired and I was so struck by the idea that he saw slowing down as a bonus of life. Slowing down is a gift. I love what has been found through seeing the world a new way. Thank you for this

  • Kathy Burkman October 28, 2011 12:41 am

    Thank you for sharing your story, Shaun. I pray that you continue to heal, and grow as a photographer. I know many people that use photography as therapy. I know I did. When my son was diagnosed with Stage 3 brain cancer, my husband and sister urged me to take a class that would force me to take photographs every day. I did, and am so grateful for the support it provided. My son is healthy and I still take photographs.

  • Jurie du Plessis October 28, 2011 12:16 am

    After reading this I feel ashamed of myself for sometimes not finding time to do what I love - photography. Thanks for sharing your story. Made me think that there should not be any excuse to ever go out and do what you are passionate about. You are an inspiration not only to me but to a lot of people. Thanks for sharing and motivate myself and others to not just take things for granted but really be great full for what we have.

  • richard downes October 28, 2011 12:07 am

    The annoying and frustrating thing about being a wheelchair photographer is missing that perfect shot because you can't get close enough or in the best position!

  • Mairi Macaulay October 27, 2011 11:24 pm

    What an inspiring story!

    I took up photography 3 and a half years ago when I had to stop working because of stress-related illness and depression. I fell into it accidentally when my husband and I bought a decent camera for taking holiday snaps. The camera quickly became "mine" and I started to discover a new creative side to me that I did not know existed. Having something new, exciting and something I seemed to have a natural talent for certainly helped me to recover and start to find good in my life again.

    Since giving up work, I have also had 4 miscarriages - each of which tipped me back into depression to varying degrees. Getting out and about with the camera and concentrating on learning new skills and techniques again took my mind away from the negatives in my life and has given me something to aim towards. I know I will never return to the career I had worked my whole life towards, but I have hopefully found a new one in photography!

    I hope you continue to recover, keep your positive attitude and continue to enjoy photography.

  • Colin October 27, 2011 11:02 pm

    What a great story, quite humbling.

  • Tanusree October 27, 2011 10:51 pm

    I was on tears while reading this article - but that was tears of happiness. Shaun has really motivated me to think positively - and look forward to good things in life. Shaun, from now on you will always be on my prayers - you will get well supersoon - the world needs more people like you who can inspire others to live - and shoot !!!
    Darren - thanks to you too for your thoughtful decision to publish. This is the best thing that happned to me in a long time!!!!


  • Lefteris October 27, 2011 10:31 pm

    What a story!

    I am amazed by the determination of people like our fellow photographer!

    And I feel grateful for your tips!

    Thank you for everything and I hope you get over this situation soon!!!

  • Fuzzypiggy October 27, 2011 10:29 pm

    The reason I do it for pure personal pleasure. My wife and I went through some pretty rough times, arguing like cat and dog, the photography helped and still helps me to keep calm and not get stressed over other serious issues in my life. My job and travel involved are quite stressful, having the shooting to look forward to at the end of the week always gives me something to look forward to and gives me a focus to each week. My wife gives me plenty of time and space to do my hobby knowing it helps me to calm down when I am stressed by problems at work. No idea what state my life would be in if I didn't have photography to bring balance.

    I know several people where I work who get stressed and they simply go home and fume over their problems and don't have something creative to "exorcise the spirits". They could really do with getting behind a canvas or a camera.

    The last point is extremely well made and something I try harder and harder to do now more than ever. Simply pick one location and work it to death in all types of conditions, try to understand how light changes its mood and influences the compositions I want.

    It's good read about someone down to earth and how photography has brought huge benefits to their life, not just another pro with a unique vision making it big.

  • John October 27, 2011 10:04 pm

    Such a great story. Thank you for sharing not only your challenges and suggestions for the "able bodied" but for reminding me why I love photography. Best of luck on your adventures ahead.

  • Steve October 27, 2011 07:30 pm

    Awesome awesome awesome, I sincerely wish you all the best. You can't change the past, but you are now shaping your future.

  • bycostello October 27, 2011 07:24 pm

    touching story.. hope is all works out well for you..

  • LS October 27, 2011 06:50 pm

    Wow this is just such an inspiring story!

    I have been suffering from postnatal depression for 2 years now and lately it feels like theres no hope and there is no magic in the world. Photography was my passion and i have lost motivation to do anything I once enjoyed. I am hoping to get the good old camera out pretty soon and try and heal myself. Your story has made me realize that life is too short and we should all be out doing what we love the most and hopefully it will heal us along the way. Thank you! :)

  • analy October 27, 2011 04:49 pm

    i am touched with shaun's story. i hope and pray for his faster recovery!

  • Jesse October 27, 2011 03:46 pm

    Great story and great advice (about slowing down) but how are all these people responding tomorrow. Here on my planet it is still the 26th of Oct.

  • SM October 27, 2011 03:19 pm

    I will be sharing this post on Facebook to motivate more people around me.

    Slow or not slow, good photographer/bad photographer doesn't matter, all that matters is to value what we have and not take it from granted.

    Thanks Mate for sharing your story

  • Stephen October 27, 2011 03:14 pm

    Thank you very much for that post! It was very inspiring and I hope that many people have the chance to take up a camera as you have.

    All the best in your endeavours!

  • Ryan Biddulph October 27, 2011 03:09 pm

    What sensational inspiration Shaun and Darren. Using photography as a motivating and dream tool, this is what will help you to keep your energy high Shaun. Keep on keeping on, and continue to use the amazing tool of photography to lift your spirits.

    Thanks for sharing!


  • pixelage October 27, 2011 02:31 pm

    Dear Shaun,
    we don't know each other even not introduced and communicated ever before, but i like you...! each and every photos coming out from your camera is a mile you crossing towards betterment and will be a checklist to me and fellow speedy 'clickgraphers" to study before pressing the shutter button. i haven't seen any of your photos yet. but, hat's off to your will and self motivation. get well soon!!

    thanks n take care,

  • Chelsea October 27, 2011 12:49 pm

    I am an occupational therapist who is an avid photographer. This is an inspiring story. Thank you for sharing!

    Shaun - I would love to know what adaptive equipment you use for your photography. I work with people with all types of injuries including brain injury patients, those with amputations, orthopaedic injuries, and burns. I would love to hear some of the solutions you have come up with regarding your equipment and photography! Contact me if interested:

  • Wendy October 27, 2011 12:49 pm

    Thank you for your inspiring words. I spent three years in a wheelchair following a car accident and many days it is my camera lens that helps me see the world in a different light. It helps me appreciate life. Continue taking pictures, inspiring others, and providing your unique viewpoint through your pictures!

  • Darren Rowse October 27, 2011 12:43 pm

    thanks everyone for your feedback - I'm passing all this onto Shaun!

  • ccting October 27, 2011 12:34 pm

    Wow, you are great! At least better than me... You have great advice where I am following now. I have slowed down a lot, from thousands of photos everyday to 1-2 pictures per week.

    I think i have mental disorder a bit - I have no problems to spend thousands of dollars for anything, but now, spending hundreds of dollars will make me "think too much"... I think I am going to be crazy..

  • gs October 27, 2011 12:18 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story. Photography is a wonderful & creative outlet. I'm so glad you discovered it! The possiblilties are endless!

  • Iris October 27, 2011 12:14 pm

    Thank you Shaun for sharing your story and wisdom.

  • Emma October 27, 2011 11:13 am

    Thank you for sharing your story Shaun. It is inspiring reading about how you are overcoming such challenges to explore a newfound love of photography. Wishing you all the best with your rehabilitation and your continuing photographic journey.

  • Rachel styles October 27, 2011 11:01 am

    Photography can be a great career if you enjoy taking pictures and creativity. But to be a great photographer you have to know how the camera works and what each part does. If you don't know, this article gives a great explanation.

  • Rhonda October 27, 2011 10:34 am

    Beautiful and uplifting.......

  • moe2244 October 27, 2011 10:15 am

    Thanks for sharing your story.
    Photography is still a hobby for me. At 55, still so much to learn. I took a photoshop course last year and jokingly referred to it as my "basket weaving".
    It helps me get my mind off the stress from work.
    I recently was challenged to shoot film again and found it really makes you slow down and think about your shot.
    Photography and processing, certainly, is therapy for me.

  • se7en October 27, 2011 09:43 am

    Wow, what an amazing read - you have so much to offer, and so much to teach the rest of us - a totally new perspective on the world. We have a couple of friends that are wheel chair bound, and anything to gain understanding and insight into uplifting their lives and sharing something in common, like photography, is brilliant. You have given me a great idea to take a friend or two on photography outings... Thank you so much!

  • Dave October 27, 2011 09:20 am

    It's great to hear what a positive contribution that your hobby has made to your life. Hope it gives you much pleasure for years to come. I too love the relaxing pleasure of photography and just getting out and about.

  • Isabel October 27, 2011 09:18 am

    Thank you for sharing your story, Shaun....I hope you'll share your photos, too!

    And thanks for the reminder to just slow down....

  • Brandi October 27, 2011 09:18 am

    Shaun, thank you for being brave and sharing your story. Your message is beautiful, and will stay with me for quite a while.

  • kate October 27, 2011 09:15 am

    Lets see your pictures. We love pictures,and you sure sound like a Photographer


  • bk man rajbhandari October 27, 2011 09:11 am

    Thank you very much shaun for sharing Your Story. I would Like to Add you as a friend.

  • Hari October 27, 2011 09:08 am

    Such an inspiring story
    I salute Shaun's determination.. thanks for sharing it..

  • louis pelata October 27, 2011 09:00 am

    Thanks for sharing your story. I will counter your comment about being out with other photographers and not being able to get the shots that they get with you should look at it from the point of view that you see a world from a perspective that able bodied photographers do not see. That gives you a unique perspective that you should embrace and exploit.

  • Caroline Tooth October 27, 2011 09:00 am

    This is a truly inspirational story Shaun and thank you for sharing.
    I sincerely hope you continue to improve, your story has made me take a step back and think. I feel very humble.

  • James Maher October 27, 2011 08:54 am

    Shaun, this was very inspiring and I hope that you continue to heal. It's wonderful that you found photography as a creative and therapeutic outlet. I think that it is also a therapeutic outlet for most of us here as well.

  • Heather October 27, 2011 08:50 am

    Wow! What an inspirational story. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Cathy October 27, 2011 08:49 am

    I love your story and thank you for sharing it. I wonder how many other people out there would enjoy "photo-therapy" are inspiring me to start something new in my town! Please publish your photos!

  • Desert-Brat October 27, 2011 08:49 am


    Thank you for sharing your story. I have to use a mobility scooter so I know some of your challenges ... not a problem if you want to shoot belt buckles :-) I also struggle with stability in holding objects so I chose a camera without video ability (Nikon D80) and have purchased a couple of different lenses for it.

    I take photos for myself, but I did enter some at the county fair last year and won two People's Choice awards. Was I surprised!

    But I do think you are right about slowing down. It does make a difference.

  • Kyla October 27, 2011 08:36 am

    I can relate as well. Photography was an outlet for me when I was struggling with depression after a nasty breakup.

    Thank you for sharing your story!

  • Kenneth October 27, 2011 08:36 am

    This is very inspiring. Amazing.

  • Ellie October 27, 2011 08:32 am

    Sitting in a wheelchair can be a good opportunity for candid street photography :-)

  • John October 27, 2011 08:26 am

    Very nice inspirational story! Glad to hear you've found a reason to have hope it's sometimes hard even when your not in a tough situation these days. I love photography and it's certainly becoming an outlet for me as well!

  • Tieshka October 27, 2011 06:38 am

    Thank you for sharing your story, Shaun. Very inspirational and timely for me.

  • Henk October 27, 2011 06:02 am

    This is a great story! So many things one can relate to, even without having to go through an accident. The tip of slowing down? That is true for everybody! Thanks!

  • Bekah October 27, 2011 05:52 am

    This is a fantastic story, thanks for shari

  • Gail Peck October 27, 2011 05:27 am

    I too have a story to tell. Unlike Shaun's dramatic moment, I had an undiagnosed illness which had me going from doctor to doctor for nearly two years. To say that it was frustrating is an understatement. At the time I was 53 and attending Community College; working towards a degree. I struggled each day back at school but kept at it nonetheless. When Christmas time came my husband surprised me with a Panasonic Lumix DMX-3. He said the gift was meant to distract me from my pain. Boy did it! After only months my husband once again had a bright idea--why don't we try and sell your work at our local farmer's market. So, we did.

    It is now four years later, over 5,000 prints sold and I'm still taking pictures every day and loving it! No, I never found out the cause of my problems, and some days I'm still having them, however, photography has been a real life saver for me.

    I, too, learned much from your site in the early years--keep up the good work! I believe you've been very successful because you have articles pertaining to every level of photography. Thanks again!

  • James Tiblier October 27, 2011 04:57 am

    Thanks for sharing this story, it very inspiring to hear.

  • Maria Schnell October 27, 2011 04:46 am

    You might want to try pinhole or camera obscura techniques:

    I don't know how this would work for you, but I find the concept interesting.

  • wayne October 27, 2011 03:08 am

    I really enjoyed your story and admire you for sharing it and doing photography. You could get some awesome shots from your perspective. I would love to see some of them. I would really enjoy if I could go shoot with you smoetime. I to have had a surgery that put me in a situation but not as bad as yours I too suffered from depression still do. I didn't pick up my camera for months. That's another story.

  • Stefano October 27, 2011 02:48 am


    thank you for sharing your story. I think you gave everybody a life-lesson.
    I wish you all the best, I am sure you will never surrender and results will come.


  • Killian October 27, 2011 02:13 am


    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I had a life changing injury a few years ago myself, and the permanent losses of so many activities really laid me out. I turned back to photography (I loved it as a kid) as a lifeline to creativity, and never looked back. I have a really good friend who used it as therapy to find beauty in the world after the death of her infant son.

    It's wonderful to know that there are others like us, who bound by the common thread of photo therapy. I wish you all the best in your recovery; know that people are pulling for you!


  • santhosh October 27, 2011 02:00 am

    wow photography is great.It acts as an good medium for stress relief for those who have tough work life.I love travel and wildlife and photography.I feel charged up after a break.

  • October 27, 2011 01:51 am

    Thanks for sharing your story - I hope things continue to get better for you and you continue to find inspiration in Photography.

  • Becca October 27, 2011 12:40 am

    Mine isn't quite as dramatic, but I think photography has been like therapy to me too. I have been struggling to get pregnant now for a year and a half and it led me to become depressed and feel worthless. Photography opened my eyes. The fact that I can take pictures that have a unique point of view and that I really love makes me realize I am not worthless just because I can't get pregnant right now. In a way, I am grateful for my situation because it led me to my greatest passion.

  • Katheryn October 27, 2011 12:38 am

    What a fantastic story! Even though I have not had all of the challenges that you have, I too find photography therapuetic and it always lifts my mood.

  • Hope October 27, 2011 12:29 am

    I sincerely relate to Shaun's story. I have several health issues and struggle with clinical depression. When I'm feeling especially depressed and resenting life, photography makes me stop and appreciate the world. I joined the 365 Project so that I have accountability to pick up my camera every day. Photography hasn't cured me, but it has enhanced my life.