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On crushing fears via photography

I am a very visual person.

I think a lot of us here can empathize and relate to that statement. I learn and grow best by seeing more than by any other method. So, I thought I'd give photography a shot as a method to help me cope and break my crippling fear of flying.

Over the past year, I've flown more than ever before in my life. Getting over my fear was not so much a convenience as much as it was a requirement for me to keep my sanity.

So, I started taking photos of takeoff and landing, two of the more harrowing parts of a flight. I know, I know. No electronics during this time. I have no excuse except that I don't think my Fuji X100 will affect much of the takeoff and/or landing. Still, I am not condoning breaking FAA regulation. :)

So, I thought sharing this should would help you visualize how I feel when we're beginning our flight. I look at this shot and I start putting things in their place. The concept of flying starts to make sense because I can see it in action here.

Maybe it can help others out there with the same fear.

Do any of you use photography to cope with any of your own personal fears?
Debbie Pribele's profile photoDamien Jemison's profile photoDavid Kelly's profile photoDavid Jr. Gray's profile photo
I can't say I use it to overcome fears but maybe to overcome or use it as a way to connect with people I might not otherwise connect with (does this count) I definitely use the visual part of photography and the way I see things in other parts of my life.
oh how i can identify with you ... and my camera has become my window outside of my thoughts in more than one situation ... thank you for sharing this post ... i hope to be able to say hi this week in vegas!
I was able to take photos of a tarantula - out in the wild in Chile - because I was looking at it through my lens. Otherwise, I am terrified of spiders and would have run away screaming... Not really, but I wouldn't have stuck around.
Good stuff man. My father-in-law (a pilot for American) had an interesting story about the whole electronics during flight thing...

Apparently, there is absolutely no conclusive evidence that cell phones, electronics or anything similar has any effect on the instruments and electronics in the cockpit of an airplane.

There was a flight about 10 years ago where the altimeter (the instrument that tells the pilot how high the plane is off the ground) was reading 200 feet above what it actually was, and the pilot was landing in the fog or something like that. The plane made a really hard landing and they couldn't ever figure out why the altimeter was off. After interviewing the passengers they found out that a group of teenagers were all using cell phones on the flight and they needed something to pin the issue to.

So, ever since then, all cell phones and electronics have been banned during take offs and landings.
I don't necessarily use it to cope with fear, but it does help me cope with other things. I have started to use photography as a way of venting more or less. I am not very good at opening up and sharing, and so I tend to bottle things up. Photography (and specifically self-portraits) has become a way for me express myself so that I don't keep it all to myself. It is a stress reliever of sorts I guess you could say. It definitely clears my head and puts me at ease when I take a self-portrait that completely conveys (at least to me) what I am going through.
Ok... Here I go... I suffer every flight. I take maybe 12/14 flights a year and I am scare in all of them. I have to learn the meaning of each sound in order not to panic... but the best part of the year is when I travel so I have to live with the fear and I agree... my camera always help!
Aside from it being a way to express myself, as Abigail already said, I'm trying to use it to cope with vertigo. I see all those wonderful shots taken at the top of skyscrapers and the like. I want to go there, but it's really difficult if you're shaking more with every step upwards. So, I'm hoping for the day where my desire to take that shot will push my vertigo into the background. Step by step, the day will come. :-)
I'm shy (which is strange, given that I lecture for a living) so I use photography as a way to deal with that and to begin conversations. "May I take your picture?" starts a lot of conversations. I carry a self-made "business" card with my email and website addresses. I write a keyword (e.g., ATL-8/11), take a picture of it and tell the subject to check the site using that directory name (not linked) to find the photos.

After all that, we're talking.

I've done this in coffee shops, airport waiting areas, on planes, etc. I like natural light shots so when I see someone sitting near a window, they're almost certainly to "get the treatment"
I used to have a fear of wasps, then one day found myself standing in the middle of a swarm of them determined to get a close up and realised the fear had gone. It made a lasting impression.
Can't say I use photography to deal with any fears, though similarly, the reason I decided to make photography into a passion vs. just a passing interest was to get myself outside more.
I like the entire collection - thank you for sharing
I'm really loving that all of you sharing your own fears and how you cope with them. I think that there is a part of us that may feel embarrassed or ashamed to admit certain fears, but I think it's actually more therapeutic and cathartic to share it out - so cheers!

And for the record, Jellyfish are my #1 fear. If you see some older screenshots of +Nicole S. Young in our hangouts (with +James Brandon , +Dave Veffer , +Colby Brown & +Scott jarvie), you'll see her drawings of Jellyfish meant to freak me out. Friends like these, huh? :)
Great post and topic starter, +Brian Matiash!

As an adventure photographer, people always see my photos and say things like, "Wow, you must be fearless." When in reality that's about as far from the truth as you can get. I've always been a person that was ruled by fears much more than is appropriate. And I think that's part of what attracted me to climbing first, then adventure photographer, is that it puts me in a place where I have to face my fears and learn to be stronger than they are. Getting into position can still get to my nerves in a big way, because you have the time to think about the exposed place that your in, and think about what could theoretically go wrong, but I love how once the camera comes to my eye, everything else fades away. The desire to make images and the concentration needed to do so, overpowers my natural fears, and for those few moments, I'm free to create. It's a great release and very therapeutic! :)
I can fall back on the shy personality tendencies that dominated a lot of my early life and I find that a dose of street photography gets me over that really quickly. :)
I took pictures of snakes on one outing because I saw so many I figured that if I took the photos I would have to see any more snakes. Coincidence perhaps but that was the last of the snakes during my outings at that time.
I was born an introvert, I'd rather sit at home on a Saturday night and play on my computer than go out. Photography has helped me break out of my shell and interact with people more. It's not the only thing that has helped my shyness... but it's a big reason I've met so many people over the last 5-6 years.
I used to be a keen flyer without any issues until I had a bad experience almost a decade ago. A bad bit of turbulence and a lot of startling noises (well to me anyway) coming from the emergency exit door beside me during one flight, put paid to that. I've only flown a couple of flights since then mostly due to the fact that I will try to avoid flying where possible. Thankfully the flights I had to have since that experience were only brief 1 hour flights. This meant I only had to distract my brain from the situation for short periods of time (via my iPod & Sony PSP). However as I really want to go to #PSW '12 in DC, I've got to deal with this problem not for just 1 hour but for 8 of them, since I'm travelling from the UK.

It's not only a case of dealing with the fear of the flight itself, it's also dealing with the inner dread between now and the lead up to the day of the flight - the anticipation of the experience is just a emotionally fraught as the actual experience itself. Hopefully I'll come up with some more coping strategies between now and them!
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