Special thanks to Eric Beecroft and the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop, Adriana Zehbrauskas for her guidance and advice during the project, Renata and her mother for their generous and kind hospitality and opening up not just their home, but their stories to me as well.
When I first met Renata, it was to discuss the possibility of students in the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop to work with her on a story of the stray dogs of Sarajevo — a cause close to Renata's heart. After our meeting, her friend, (and my fixer) who set up the meeting commented on how pleased she was that Renata would come out to meet us. It was then I learned of her struggles with agoraphobia.
A few days later, when my own story hit a final dead end, I called Renata and asked her to meet with me. I was not interested in the stray dog angle of her story, I was fascinated with her overcoming such a seemingly insurmountable obstacle as agoraphobia. And how, with the war being almost 20 years over, it was conceivable that she should still be suffering consequences from that conflict.
During my work on her story, she emerged from her home, and managed to stay in the city a full day all alone. A first for her in the 15 years of dealing with her illness. With careful shadowing by her mother or boyfriend, she completed training as a psychologist, a step closer towards her dream of counseling other peers suffering (often undiagnosed) from PTSD.
I was completely unsure how in the world I would capture her mental illness, her struggles, her triumphs with still images. I just trusted the story would take care of itself if I was faithful in my telling of it.
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