How I Found Healing and Closeness Behind the Lens: A Photographer's Story

Through a transformative experience on a windy beach and the emotional impact of seeing their photographs come to life, the author found a sense of fulfillment and a new direction in their career as a photographer and psychologist. The article discusses the intuitive and therapeutic nature of photography, coming together and being together.

Rita Pakhlova

2/17/20212 min read

The moment when it all came together. My personal journey to discovering the therapeutic potential of photography began on one cold spring day a few years ago when I felt its influence on me. I had just finished a photo session with a client on a windy sea shore. The moment we stopped it, cold air seeped through my clothes causing me to shiver and realize that my hands were frozen, stomach empty and my whole body was tired and aching. I looked at the clock. It’s been 4 hours. Time stopped existing. I had a profound sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. Inside I felt peace, quiet happiness and gratitude. We both sat in a warm cafe for some hot tea. Sat silently. Sipping.

Few days later, waiting in anticipation for scanned films, a notification suddenly alerted me. They had finally arrived. Heart started beating fast and anxiety kept on growing. Heavy files and painful slow, snail-like, loading speed was adding to it. Finally, as the first photo loaded and appeared on the screen, I was struck… I was in a state of catharsis, and couldn't hold back my tears. It was at that moment that I realized that photography had the power to heal. I became aware of my path as a photographer and a psychologist, two things that I craved for years suddenly came together and hit me in the face. It was at this moment that I discovered an answer to the questions that I was looking for so many years, "why should I photograph? for what purpose?.”

My experience at the beach was of me being fully present, trusting my guts and being trusted in return, following my heart, not having expectations, valuing the moment, and stepping into the action with that bitter sweet combination of fear and hope. It was a very meaningful experience for me as well as for my client, who is btw my very much loved friend. What I was doing back then was an intuitive process, but as I later learnt many of the aspects of it are the essential attributes of a therapy session.

With my work I want to help people to build more deep, intimate, meaningful relationships, be more open, trusting, bold and empowered. Enough of hiding and building up protective walls!

I constantly see how people crave intimacy and closeness, but often as soon as they receive it, they back off. I believe that photography, therapeutic photography, among other things, can take you into experiencing your own way of coming and being together - togetherness, your relationship style, your insecurities, your boundaries, how close you allow people to be with you. Later this experience becomes a fertile ground for phototherapy and hopefully a deeper understanding of yourself.

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