Long Walk To Treatment

In September 2018 I was in Australia working on a photography project about drug consumption rooms. While I was there the team involved in creating campaigns for Uniting (the organisation that runs the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre) asked if I would be willing to spend a day travelling to photograph a young woman involved in their Fair Treatment campaign. She was going to be doing a part called the ’Long Walk to Treatment’. Of course I said yes, who wouldn’t? But it did almost kill my camera.

I flew in midmorning, the plan was to meet up with Shantell and her key worker, then drive out to a dirt road just outside the town. I already had a plan of the photo I wanted to capture, a closeup portrait with the road disappearing into the distance over to one side of the photo (as you’ll see below the final photo ended up pretty much matching my thoughts).

Two key workers and Shantell arrived and we started our drive, I chatted with her, mainly smalltalk, but making sure to check that she was comfortable with me taking the photos. I wanted to be sure she fully understood what both Uniting and myself would be using the photos for and how widely they would be seen. For most people I photograph I tend to use the catchall term ‘activist’ and rarely mention if people use drugs, I’ve written before on why I shy away from giving more information than that, but in this case she was going to be part of a national campaign based on her accessing treatment, so I wanted to be sure she knew what putting her image in the public domain would mean.

Below you can see a selection of the images plus the final image. I’d like to thank Shantell for allowing me to photograph her, and Uniting for giving me the opportunity. As a photographer working in harm reduction having the opportunity to contribute to campaigns like this, and meet amazing people is a true privilege.

Shantell

Shantell is an advocate for the Fair Treatment campaign. She lives 400km away from the health care services she needs to be well. Uniting Church and their partners are drawing the line on drug policy and taking half a million steps from Dubbo to Parliament House in Sydney, so Shantell and everyone affected by drug use can have a better future.

Fair treatment on FB
Fair Treatment website

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Final image

Killing the camera?

So, I mentioned that I almost killed my camera… while that is an exaggeration I have to say my camera sensor took a beating. When we got to the dirt road to do the shoot there was quite a high wind, which from a photography point of view was great. But it was also dusty (the nature of a dirt road is to be dusty) and dust, wind and the need to change lenses will result in a camera full of dirt. As you can see from this image of the ‘spot removal tool’ in Lightroom. Each small circle and dot is where I had to edit out a mark on the image.

Don’t worry, as soon as I got back to the UK I cleaned the sensor… 5 times.

Dust

Shantell

Shantell is an advocate for the Fair Treatment campaign. She lives 400km away from the health care services she needs to be well. Uniting Church and their partners are drawing the line on drug policy and taking half a million steps from Dubbo to Parliament House in Sydney, so Shantell and everyone affected by drug use can have a better future.

Fair treatment on FB
Fair Treatment website


All images and content © Nigel Brunsdon, all rights reserved.