Grizzly Bear Cub in the Aspen Trees
I can’t think of a better story to demonstrate the connection between photography and mental health. I am humbled and honored to convey the anecdote that now accompanies this photo. Below is an e-mail I received from a woman who I have come to know and admire through one of my husband’s business endeavors:
My father had a stroke three years ago. He has had a sizable degradation of his mobility and fine motor skills. He barely inches around on his walker. Most of his adult life he has been a mammalogist by hobby, including being on the board of the National Zoo. One of his favorite animals is a Grizzly Bear. He used to sculpt animals both in clay and out of stone. He has done a couple of Grizzlies. Given his stroke, he no longer can sculpt. His main activities are reading the paper, books and watching animal shows on TV. It’s a closed-in life that doesn’t offer much variety or variation in medium, since he also does not use a computer.
About 10 days ago, on my weekly visit to the Shenandoah mountains to see him and my mother, both in their 90s, I took my Ipad. While there, I opened your Changing Focus Photography website and took him to the wildlife/bears folder. My father got to the first photo of the close up of the Grizzly and was mesmerized. He commented on the ears, the lips and the sideways glance. He was happy to just see that photo, but I moved him on to the others. He certainly enjoyed them as well, but wanted to go back to that particular photo. He was so impressed. He has many photos from books and magazines of Grizzlies but this one lifted his spirits, made him smile, engaged him in a way I haven’t seen in three years. It generated a great deal of thought and he was so impressed with the photography and how hard it is to take a photo like this. What a boost it was for him and it livened up his life and brought a sparkle to his eye that I haven’t seen in three years.
P.S. One other thought. Seeing your bear photos sparked the excitement and interest in bears and sculpting again that has been absent these past couple of years due to the impact of his stroke, Covid and the national tone.
I am proud to say that my goal to make the world a better place, one photo at a time, has already been surpassed. And then some. As if the exhilaration of seeing this bear and capturing its beauty wasn’t enough to feed my soul, I will never look at this photo without feeling the glow of how it made an elderly man, struggling with so much loss, feel joy again. Thank you to RI International for giving me the platform to share this story and, hopefully, touch even more people’s lives with the inspiration it provides.
T.L. Wilson (formerly Terry Wise) has lived through a myriad of personal and professional lives, each of which has led her to the same place, with the same purpose: to provide hope and inspiration to others. Terry is the author of Waking Up: Climbing Through the Darkness, a book that offers a road map to emotional health to people who are faced with a diversity of life’s challenges (grief, depression, suicidality). Terry served on the boards of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the American Association of Suicidology and spent a decade delivering keynote speeches in every state in the United States. After happily re-marrying in 2010, Terry wrote a novel, Viewer Indiscretion, penned under the name T.L. Wilson. Terry’s most recent endeavor as a photographer is to capture and share the beauty of the world around us through a different lens—a camera lens. It is her belief that recovery from mental health challenges is achieved incrementally and it is her hope that each image will provide doses of joy to the eye and warmth to the heart. Her mission is to make the world a better place one book at a time, one word at a time and now…one photograph at a time. To view more images, please visit www.ChangingFocusPhotography.com