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  #21  
Old 09-06-2009, 07:51 PM
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Thanks Ben

-Ryan
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  #22  
Old 09-15-2009, 02:32 PM
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Back in my paramedic days, I was a field PTSD counselor. One of the most important things to remember, is there are no "wrong" feelings when it comes to dealing with issues like this. If you're angry, or depressed, or indifferent, what ever you feel, is how you feel.

I will say, be careful about "medicating" with alcohol. It may seem like the easy thing to do, but high stress occupations, ones that deal with PTSD issues on a regular basis like cops and paramedics, have higher than normal alcoholism rates. You don't want to start down that road.

Don't be afraid of your feelings, or finding someone to talk to. Like some have said, maybe it's a coworker, maybe it's a professional psychologist. When the Alaska Airlines MD80 crashed off the coast of CA about 10 years ago, my good friend, a still shooter for a newspaper, was sent out on a boat to cover the rescue efforts. As they came upon some debris, the rescuer went to grab it, and as it turned over, they found half a body still buckled into the seat. He knew I was a PTSD counselor, called me at 2am when they got back to shore, and cried for an hour. We have a great jovial, good natured-teasing relationship, but it's never been brought up since.

Personally, I like to leave work at work. In my paramedic days, I accomplished this by never wearing my uniform or boots to or from work. For me, this was the way to mentally create a divide between work and home. Same goes for TV news. I don't own a video camera, I don't do any editing at home, and I try to do my other hobbies away from work as much as possible.

Have personal escapes, leave work at work, don't be afraid to talk to someone and don't be embarrassed at how you feel.
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  #23  
Old 09-16-2009, 10:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by code20photog View Post
Back in my paramedic days, I was a field PTSD counselor. One of the most important things to remember, is there are no "wrong" feelings when it comes to dealing with issues like this. If you're angry, or depressed, or indifferent, what ever you feel, is how you feel.

I will say, be careful about "medicating" with alcohol. It may seem like the easy thing to do, but high stress occupations, ones that deal with PTSD issues on a regular basis like cops and paramedics, have higher than normal alcoholism rates. You don't want to start down that road.

Don't be afraid of your feelings, or finding someone to talk to. Like some have said, maybe it's a coworker, maybe it's a professional psychologist. When the Alaska Airlines MD80 crashed off the coast of CA about 10 years ago, my good friend, a still shooter for a newspaper, was sent out on a boat to cover the rescue efforts. As they came upon some debris, the rescuer went to grab it, and as it turned over, they found half a body still buckled into the seat. He knew I was a PTSD counselor, called me at 2am when they got back to shore, and cried for an hour. We have a great jovial, good natured-teasing relationship, but it's never been brought up since.

Personally, I like to leave work at work. In my paramedic days, I accomplished this by never wearing my uniform or boots to or from work. For me, this was the way to mentally create a divide between work and home. Same goes for TV news. I don't own a video camera, I don't do any editing at home, and I try to do my other hobbies away from work as much as possible.

Have personal escapes, leave work at work, don't be afraid to talk to someone and don't be embarrassed at how you feel.
Great post.
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  #24  
Old 09-18-2009, 11:03 AM
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Been out 5 years, none of the gruesome stuff has ever stuck with me, somehow the lens distances me from the action. But the emotional stuff, that's a different story.

When I first started hanging around newsrooms I was appalled by the gallows humor, how could these people make morbid jokes at the expense of people's loss, tragedies or bad circumstances. It's the way they cope, I realized, and they must have developed a very thick skin to work in this biz. Not me, I'll never become that thick skinned, I vowed.

I'm not naive, I realize the photog who gets the shot of of the guy getting wheeled away with the knife sticking out of his shoulderblades, or the cops blowing away somebody from the bushes, or the burning bodies crawling from the wreckage are probably the guys who'll win the emmys. But I thought, I'll never put myself in a position to benefit in any way from someone else's tragedy. The station benefits from the coverage, and I may be the only guy in the country who got the shot, but that is after all, our jobs. Maybe that's why I never felt anything about seeing the gruesome stuff I saw, I'm only there to document it. And I've never made a tasteless joke about it.

Emotionally? I'm a sap. I laugh and cry in all of the places I'm supposed to in movies, when ET dies, and all the kids cry and the music swells, forget it! Gets me every time.

The one story that has stuck with me all these years later was about a family with a mentally disabled daughter, and I can't remember why now, but their treatment was coming to an end and I don't know exactly what her condition was but she had a very enlarged head, she was, to put it delicately, so striking looking that your mind couldn't quite grasp what you were seeing, and you couldn't take your eyes off of her, or forget her.

The Mom and Dad are on the sofa, the girl between them standing, the Mom is starting to choke up a little as she speaks, Dad distracts the little girl with some sort of finger game they play so she wouldn't notice that Mom was getting sad. Mom says with her voice hitching, "I don't know what we are going to do, God gave her to us for a reason, and I just don't know what we can do anymore!" And breaks into sobs, but - soundlessly, and puts her face into her hands. She never made a sound and the daughter never knew. THAT is what gets me, not the candid, unrestrained expression of emotion, but the attempt to supress it.

As a parent I can barely allow my mind to imagine what I would do if faced with similar circumstance. But they way the girl looked, and the dignified way the mother tried to maintain a brave face, while her emotions were raging, still get me all weepy to this day.

The graphic stuff was never an issue, but for all I know I'm sitting on a time bomb.
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Old 09-21-2009, 11:54 PM
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That just proves you are a real human being and not a robot.

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  #26  
Old 09-23-2009, 08:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Longden View Post
That just proves you are a real human being and not a robot.

Ben
For the longest time I felt guilty because I was haunted by the things I saw. I thought, "Since other TV pros don't allow it to bother them, neither should I."

But like you, I'd rather be a human than a robot.

I'm human first, professional second.
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  #27  
Old 10-04-2009, 12:41 PM
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I suffer from and am being treated for PTSD from some of the things I've seen through work. Almost embarrassing considering police, fire, paramedics and hospital staff see much worse.

A doctor told me we all process what we see differently and I have challenges dealing with trauma and tragedy.

When I'm editing a story that I haven't shot that deals with tragedy no problem. It's when I am the scene and witness it and how the loved ones react.

Talk about it. See if you employer can offer some counseling so you can deal with. I bottled it up. Mistake.
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  #28  
Old 10-04-2009, 07:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Horonto View Post
Almost embarrassing considering police, fire, paramedics and hospital staff see much worse.
Whats embarrassing about it?
The beauty is that you recognise that it affects you, but the best thing is that you are doing something positive about it.

Dont be embarrassed. Stand up and be proud, because it takes a real bloke to say what you have said.

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  #29  
Old 10-05-2009, 01:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Longden View Post
Whats embarrassing about it?
The beauty is that you recognise that it affects you, but the best thing is that you are doing something positive about it.

Dont be embarrassed. Stand up and be proud, because it takes a real bloke to say what you have said.

Ben
I'm in the same position myself... For the longest time I felt ridiculous for struggling with what I've seen... I compared myself to police officers, firefighters, medics, and soldiers... But one day I was talking with a friend of mine who's a Marine... He fought in Fallujah, so he's seen some pretty rough stuff. But instead of patronizing me, he validated how I felt... For a marine to say that meant a lot to me, and I haven't allowed myself to feel guilty for the trauma that I have experienced from witnessing other people's trauma...

I just try to let my experiences focus on the pain of others, and realize that I have simply been a witness to some horrible life experiences of other people. When I get the focus off of my pain, recognize that I was a witness to the pain of others, and try to share those experiences, I think I'm healthy.

But when I withdraw and focus on me, how it has affected me... Well, then I'm not so healthy...
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  #30  
Old 10-29-2009, 12:01 PM
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Default Journalism and Trauma Webinar

If anyone is interested, the DART Center for Journalism and Trauma is holding a webinar next week: Trauma Awareness: What Every Journalist Needs to Know.

More info can be found on their website.
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  #31  
Old 11-19-2009, 10:42 AM
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I hear you, man. I got over it after a while (shooting local for 23 years), but sometimes random things would bring it all back.
My "personal best" was 35 dead in one day. A 737 crash in the morning, 26 dead, and a nursing home fire that night, nine killed.
After I shot about five minutes of charred old folks being dumped on the lawn I put my gear down and shook for about ten minutes.
This is an under-appreciated issue, for sure, but it's real.
It's a pain in the a@# to find one, but a good counselor will change your life.
Good luck.
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  #32  
Old 01-04-2010, 07:25 PM
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"...How do you deal with it?....."

Suck it up and move on to the next shoot. Compartmentalize it all and deal with it when you are old and have a better perspective on life.

Not what you wanted to hear huh?

Sadly, bad things happen to good people all the time. Some people are affected more than others, and if it really eats at you then you probably need to consider moving to another profession. That doesn't mean you're weak, and it doesn't make someone else strong, it just means it is not your cup of tea.

Hey, I couldn't be a dentist and work in someones mouth!! YUK!!

On a more serious note, having some faith helps. I won't get all religious here, but faith can give you some answers to questions no one else will ever be able to give you on a camerman forum.
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  #33  
Old 05-06-2010, 11:00 AM
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Actually, I did leave the business a few years ago. It wasn't until a year went by that I realized how unusual my experiences were. It's an interesting job... How many other 9 to 5's can potentially take you to a crime scene, a political rally, and a scene of mass destruction and chaos in a single day?

When I was in the business, I did compartmentalize. But I don't have to do that anymore since I'm not covering the news anymore.

Thankfully, I'm still producing videos, so it keeps me busy and distracted!
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Old 07-10-2010, 08:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by photog3535 View Post
If anyone is interested, the DART Center for Journalism and Trauma is holding a webinar next week: Trauma Awareness: What Every Journalist Needs to Know.

More info can be found on their website.
Thanks for the info. I had never heard of DART before. I just sent the following to them-
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
I find myself in a very unique and tragic circumstance.
I have been a TV Photojournalist for almost 25 years covering all the usual local horrors. Thanksgiving night 2009 I became a victim. An uninvited cousin opened fire on our family. My six year old daughter, Makayla Joy Sitton was shot 3 times as she lay in her bed. My mother in law and twin cousins were also murdered right in front of me. One of whom was pregnant. As you can imagine the Sat trucks, cameras and reporters arrived in droves. I learned something about myself that night but I also saw myself as victims have seen me thru the years. (We're not a pretty sight) My family and I are now waiting for the death penalty trial to begin and the cameras are there at every hearing. I tell you all of this because I would like to get involved with your organization. I'd like to help others in the media to see the tragedies that they cover from the victims point of view. I believe much can be learned and taught from my unique and horrible position. The trial will not even begin until early 2012 so maybe we can document some of the good and bad as it goes along.
I'm not looking for face time. I don't enjoy being on camera. I'm much more comfortable behind it, but I think it's important to get something positive out of our heartache and honor the memory of Makayla.
Let me know if you're interested in helping me accomplish my goal,
jim
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  #35  
Old 07-13-2010, 05:25 AM
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Jim,

How about starting something called The Makayla Foundation.
A support group for the children who are victims of domestic violence?

My best friend (girlfriend) is a domestic violence counsellor and deals with the female victims of abusive and violent relationships. The way things work (sadly) is the wife and kids are removed to a safe house (and the A$$hole perpetrator is 'free'). During this time, the kids are really badly affected.

Typically down under, the perpetrator is a male (if he had the balls to be called male) and gets his jollies by beating up his wife/girlfriend. Unfortunately, even though the Police do a great job in making his life difficult, the Woman and Kids (note the capital letters) need to move to a safer location.

So, while the mum and kids are safe from his violence, they are in a state of crisis;

What The Makayla Foundation could do is help these kids out by helping them try to relax. Movie tickets, trips to the zoo, even McDonalds; Anything to help them realise they are not to blame for what has happened in their lives. Anything to put a little sparkle back.

The Foundation would offer their support through the Domestic Violence counselling service, so the individual case workers can apply the help where and when it really is needed. That way you would only have to worry about one point of contact, and then organise sponsorship - by "in kind support" and government grants to spread the service from the town to nationwide.

This way, Makayla will still be helping to spread her good cheer to other kids.

Just a thought.

Ben


By the way Jim, feel free to PM me if you need someone to talk to.
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  #36  
Old 07-14-2010, 09:05 AM
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This is why I want to write a book collaborated with as many news photogs as possible. Essays from photogs around the world from network to the smallest markets. I feel that writing is the most therapeutic way of getting our feelings out… it’s also a way to let the world know whatwe do and what we see from day to day.
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  #37  
Old 07-21-2010, 05:49 PM
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Jim....I know your story and its so sad! Sorry for your loss !
If you want some insight, or a buddy to help in anything you may have going on in the future... contact Pete Oneal sr, WMAR TV2 Baltimore. I worked with him when his mom was murdered. Ironic that Pete is the #1 crime photog in Baltimore for 30 years. His out look changed fast, after his moms murder and trial. He may add some insight and would be interested in helping others too.
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  #38  
Old 09-24-2010, 08:20 PM
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the worst part of hard news for me is when i seen a child injured or killed because some 'adult' was stupid! that is the reason i quit driving ambulance back in 1968, just couldn't stand seeing kids hurt. as i told a reporter one night, I have been in this business 28 years (this was a few years ago) and just about the time you think you have seen everything, someone comes along and demonstrates a new way of being stupid. I CAN'T STAND STUPID!
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Old 09-27-2010, 07:59 AM
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I have to agree.... but with one, shall we say, modification?

With 25 years as a road accident rescue worker, and my time as a theatre trauma nurse, as well as nearly 25 years behind a camera, I have to agree with Mr Gump.

"Cant fix stupid."

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  #40  
Old 12-15-2010, 02:55 PM
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Thought I'd share this link with all of you... I produced a short doc for the five year anniversary of Katrina. Two people who go to my church were in New Orleans immediately following the storm. It was also nice to finally be able to share the stills I shot from my coverage of the aftermath.

FYI... This was produced with CS5 and a Quadro FX3800 card. Color corrected in real time within Premiere. I typically tweak the color in AE, but thought I'd give the realtime workflow a shot. Was very pleased with it. Now, when I'm in a rush to get something out, I do all my CC within Premiere.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the story. It's kind of weird to step back and realize I shot all the footage. Our line of work certainly gives us front row seats for some crazy stuff.
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