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Sustainable Prospects – Shoot Mod4#10 – Behind the Mask – Emma

Figure 1: Sutherst. Emma. 2017

“Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events. Someone with PTSD often relives the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks, and may experience feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt.”

– (Nhs.uk, 2017)

Following a serious car accident a few years ago, Emma suffers from PTSD. I have previously photographed Emma as part of my body part project (previous post).

The PTSD affects her every single day. Emma explained to me that she does not take her mask off for anyone. The fact that she volunteered to take part in this project is amazing. For the time that she was in the studio, she was able to reveal some of her true self.

I was particularly mindful during this shoot that I did not get Emma to go to a place that she was not comfortable.  We discussed the face behind the mask shot.  I told Emma how I had felt during my shoot.  I offered her the option to put her head in her hands if she felt that was the best way to cope with what we were trying to achieve. Emma chose this option and the shot (figure 4) was obtained in 3 shots.  The pain and fear behind the mask are expressed strongly in her eyes and the shot says it all.  The atmosphere in the room was very emotional and to help deal with the emotion, I kept this part of the shoot very short.

After the shoot, we chatted about all sorts of things over a cuppa.  This helped me to ensure that there were no lasting effects from the shoot for either of us.

Emma is by far and away one of the bravest people I have met.  I am honoured that she offered to take part. If this project helps to raise awareness of the suffering of PTSD and the impact that it has on those who have it, then I will be very pleased. PTSD is a misunderstood condition and many people are not aware of its existence or believe it is all in someone’s head.  That is why this project is so important.

Figure 2: PTSD UK, 2017)

To find out more information about PTSD please visit the PTSDUK Website and please click DONATE if you would like to help fund research into PTSD and support for sufferers.

Figures 3 and 4: Sutherst. Emma. 2017

Other helpful websites include the following:


PTSD Resolution

Combat Stress


ASSIST TraumaCare

Save Our Soldier







Nhs.uk. (2017). Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – NHS Choices. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/pages/introduction.aspx [Accessed 25 Oct. 2017].


Figure 2: PTSD UK. (2017). PTSD UK |. [online] Available at: http://www.ptsduk.org [Accessed 25 Oct. 2017].

#BehindtheMask #October2017 #TheMasksWeWear

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