Combating PTSD with Photography


♪ soft piano music ♪ I don’t really have a plan of like, ” oh I have to get this particular shot.” ♪ ♪ ♪ I just see something… It could be somebody walking past with a hat, and the hat has drawn my attention. I want to capture life as it’s happening. [ street noise ] The crosswalks in downtown have sound for the blind to be able to hear when it’s time to cross. It sounds like, “dut dut dut dut dut, dut dut dut dut dut” [ crosswalk sound ] Which, to me, the very first time I heard that, sounded like somebody rocking on the S.A.W. Which in the army, S.A.W. is squad automatic weapon. When it went off it just instantly startled me. I hit the deck. Other people around me were like, “What’s going on?!” Some people kind of crouched down as well. And then somebody helped me up and was like, “Hey, it’s alright. It’s the crosswalk sign.” I was so shaken up that I was like, “Okay, I’m never doing again. I’m never going downtown” ♪ ♪ ♪ But, the drive to do the street photography was just so strong that I was like, “Okay, I gotta give us another try.” My name is Shawn Augustson. I do street photography which helps me to overcome my P.T.S.D. and anxiety. I was in the US Army with the 20th Airborne, and served in Iraq. I did convoy security, so we were on the roads every day. We did some prisoner detainments… and I don’t really want to talk about the traumas that happened because I don’t want to start crying and stuff. So when I first came home from Iraq, I felt like there was something not right. Things were going on like both mentally and physically that weren’t there before but I didn’t understand it or know what was going on with it. And, as a result, I became hospitalized and that’s where they diagnosed me with having P.T.S.D. anxiety and other issues So photography didn’t take like right away. I spent a lot of time isolating at home where everything felt safe to me. With the photography, you know, I started photographing things in the house and you can only photograph so much in your house and then your yard and it becomes pretty boring. I would then take my dog for a walk and walk around the neighborhood. That led me to the Metro Parks. It led to me wanting to go downtown and photograph on the streets, and at this point in time, that’s where I had learned that that there was actually a whole genre of photography called street photography. And it just really appealed to me. Coming from a military background I’m used to having missions. And, using the photography now, kind of made me more mission focused. I was setting goals for myself, going out seeking shots and following my own set of orders. So I went from isolating in the house to today, being out in public, in a crowd, and photographing and enjoying myself and having fun. Before I was trying to hide from it all and now I’m like, trying to capture it all. Photography is not a cure all. You’re still going to have setbacks but the important thing is then to keep…to keep going. [ street noise ] [ crosswalk sound ] ♪ ♪ ♪

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