The voice of a veteran

December 15, 2010

I stumbled across the Yoga For Vets, NYC website while doing some research for another story. The tag line on their site says, “Taught by a veteran, for veterans, Yoga for Vets NYC is FREE for all veterans, family, and providers.” I kept clicking. The site went on to talk about how the program offered both yoga and meditation classes. It said the classes were designed specifically for veterans dealing with injuries or trauma. The program was started by Anu Bhagwati, a former Marine who found that yoga had helped her with aspects of service-related injuries that the VA Hospital could not. It all sounded pretty amazing. I emailed Anu asking if I could come by and photograph her class, then crossed my fingers.

Anu was kind enough to allow me to photograph her class, and generous enough to speak with me about the experiences that led her to start the program in the first place. I knew that without her words I would risk coming away with pictures that didn’t really distinguish this yoga class from that of any other in the city. It’s a problem that visual journalists often face when stories turn towards topics that are largely invisible. How do you tell a story about trauma or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when everything appears to be normal on the surface?

As photojournalists we constantly look for moments, situations, details that can help to tell our stories but sometimes it is the voice of the subject to really bring things into sharp focus.

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