Using Photography as a Form of Therapy for Grief

For many, a creative hobby or endeavor acts as buffer against the strains of everyday life. But for some, it's a lot more than that — it's a way to find just a little bit of peace in a world that's been turned upside down, often in tragic ways.

With another thoughtful video in his series on mental health, British photographer David Dixon talks to a woman who has been affected by one of the most tragic circumstances that can befall anyone, especially a parent — suicide. Sylvia Slavin is a photographer based in Yorkshire, UK, and at the start of 2018, her son, John, took his own life. To say that suicide is a difficult subject to talk about is perhaps an understatement, so the fact that she is willing to share her story, and the story of her son, John, with Dixon and the YouTube community is incredibly positive. Not only is Slavin actively spreading awareness and helping others who have either been affected by suicide or are contemplating it, but she's offering a powerful suggestion of respite in the form of creativity, because that's what helps her. While not solutions on their own, creative and active hobbies are incredible therapeutic tools.

The first step in combating the conditions of depression, grief, or similar afflictions, is to talk to someone. It could be a friend, family member, your GP, or a helpline. The adage "a burden shared is a burden halved" is never as truer when it comes to your mental health. There is always someone there to listen — you just need to pick up the phone.   


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JetCity Ninja's picture

"rub some dirt on it" is how i was raised.

the camera is my dirt and i rub it on my head.

Allan Morris's picture

I couldn't agree more to this video, very thankful for David Dixon doing this. I lost my father to Cancer in 2013, although he and I had our differences as I became a man and was leading my own life and family 1/2 a world away, What hurt the most for me was seeing this pillar of strength that was my Dad through the years of growing up, suddenly becoming weak as Cancer caused it's havok on his body and then the treatments of Chemo. The week of my fathers cremation, the very last night back home in the UK before my return trip to Florida where I now live, I went out with my camera to shoot some landscapes.

Well the final image I brought back from that is what I feel is one of my best. A storm was rolling across the mountainside and a small hole appeared in the clouds which allowed a beam of sunlight through, I opted for my Lee Big Stopper (10Stop) and a circular polarizer and then combined with a grad ND and dragged the shutter for quite a bit of time, this allowed that one beam of sunlight to traverse across the countryside as if tracing a warm path of light. It was a beautiful time for me to collect my thoughts and reflect on my past.

That one image for me, to this day allows me to sit back and reflect, it brings a tear to my eye as I remeber the fond memories of my Dad.

Friends have seen the image and commented on it and then I let them in on what the story behind the image is, it transforms their perception, it's one of appreciation, A friend once said after seeing the image, that the emotion of what you must have been feeling definitely shows in that final image.

Studio 403's picture

I am migrating to more video. I find myself meeting myself doing video. Something is unlocked in me at age 72. I could imangine shooting a photo or doing a video just a few years ago. I felt so much shame doing photographer and video. I am finding its about my self worth. I got sucidal some 19 years ago. I cam close. To close. I am present now