Update On My Photography And Art – The Value Of Documentary Photography

Hi all.

My recovery from my overdose and consequent surgery is going well, which is good for my photography and art.

I’m so grateful that I have the energy and desire to continue with my final assignment. I’ve managed a few hours of embroidery over the past few days. By making use of the research I conducted, and adapting the input from others, I now have a very good technique for embroidering on top of photography. Result!

I have several pressure sores. Some of these were acquired whilst unconscious following my overdose, and one which I acquired in hospital whilst under sedation. A good friend suggested that I photograph the one on my arm, the one acquired in hospital, and create some documentary photography.

I liked the idea but felt it was not particularly practical. So instead I decided to photograph the consequences of a failed suicide attempt. During my stay at the Heart hospital (they saved my life) I was in a single room, which gave me the freedom to make Photography of my experience. The Heart hospital is where I had surgery to remove a septic abcess and part of my right lung, and where I had a cardiac arrest.

The critical care unit at the Whittington Hospital was the first ward that I was on. They somehow managed to bring me around from my overdose. It wasn’t expected. They informed friends and family that I wasn’t expected to pull through. However, I survived. I was in no fit state to take photos in the Whittington until just before I left, so I have very few photos from there.

During my recuperation with friends and my cousin I’ve taken some photos of my recovery. I shall evaluate and collate all of these and put together a documentary series.

Of note:- during my coursework I reviewed a documentary series called “Ray’s a Laugh” by Richard Billingham, (see here). I feel that documenting my failed suicide attempt is similar to the style of Billingham, and has opened my mind to the value of documenting the everyday. Many people try to commit suicide, and considerably more survive than die (over 15 successful suicide attempts per day in the UK). This is why I use the term “everyday”, I’m not dismissing the tragedy of suicide or attempted suicide. There is good work being done to prevent suicide and I hope more will be done in the future.

Documentary photography in the style of Billingham, and my own series, creates a space for reflection and discourse, and this can create connection and change.

Here are a couple of photos from my series. Not quite sure when I will get the time to put my series together as I have so many medical appointments.



56 Replies to “Update On My Photography And Art – The Value Of Documentary Photography”

      1. It’s a true post, when I put the series together the photos will make that clear. If you look on my site you will see that I explore my life through photography. I’ve had severe mental health problems throughout my life. Photography helps me to explore and come to terms with my mental health.

        I didn’t want to die at all. I like life. However, I had a mental health relapse. I had an intense episode of paranoia which triggered my suicidal ideation. I was seeking help with this because I didn’t want to act upon my thoughts.

        Mental health isn’t black and white, but there is a huge value in discussing it and bringing it out into the Open. The above may make no sense at all if you have always had good mental health.

        I’m pleased to hear that you are good.


  1. Richard I’m so sorry to hear what you’ve been through. It’s good that you are using the recovery time to allow yourself to heal both mentally & physically & feel keep a record of your experience. A series like this might help others who feel as you did & encourage them to seek help. It’s great that you have been progressing with your embroidery too.
    Take care love Judy x

    Liked by 3 people

  2. It’s good to hear you are getting back into circulation again Richard. Your experience must have been horrendous, you must have a good constitution. Do look after yourself, I am looking forward to your posts.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Enjoy your day. I’m sorry that I’m not following blogs at the moment, so I’m not up to date with your work. As my recovery continues I’ll get the energy back, and I look forward to that.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Welcome back Richard. So glad you are posting again. I am looking forward to your embroidered assignment and your personal recovery series.
    Your cardiothoracic surgeon appears to share your interest in needlework!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. And here you are! I was worrying about you. You have been through it, but now you are coming out the other side, a difficult trip (to say the least). I shall look forward to seeing your embroidered photographs. BTW – I found Yorkshire tea at my supermarket (in the ‘International’ section LOL) and now I understand why people put milk in tea. It is strong tea and a good exchange for my morning coffee. (And, yes, I am doing just fine, well and happy enough.) 💜

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Welcome back. I’m so glad to hear from you, so glad that you are doing better and that you are in a place where you can heal. It’s good to read your words and descriptions and see your photographs. You have been missed.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I’m doing okay. Struggling a bit but I’m starting to come around to the idea that I will cycle like this for the rest of my life. I need to learn how to surf through the icky bits and believe they will pass. Also, not beat myself up when I’m struggling. Challenges.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The cycles are a hard thing to accept when it means a return to struggling. Thank god we come out of them some how.
        . I’ve found not beating myself up hard. Some days I can do more than others. I have to work hard on being gentle on the days that I have less energy.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I understand. It’s hard to treat ourselves kindly when we live with the mindset that everything is our fault and if only we were perfect, things would work out. Take the time you need. I’m glad you’re working on being gentle with yourself. Kindness is always a good choice.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve not been reading a lot of posts for a while (lots of reasons – life and all that) but noticed you seemed to be MIA. Which led me to wonder and hope that all was well with you. Sorry to hear you’ve had such a tough time. And conversely, happy to hear now that you are well along on the recovery path. Hope all continues to go well for you.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I’m pleased to hear that you’re recovering well Richard and impressed that you’re using photography to document it all. Says a lot for your strength of will and enthusiasm for photography.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I have missed seeing your posts pop up on my reader. Happy to see you back. There’s so much you have to say with your images. Everything is so real. Head-stuff is uncomfortable to read about sometimes but, I think, so important to bring out into the light. Keep doing it, Richard.

    Liked by 1 person

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