A few days ago when I was attempting to process one of those rough passages, I lost myself in a photo of our two silly boys roughhousing in the turn-out ring. I can get lost, for hours, painting and tweaking an image that I enjoy staring at. In these situations, there is, for me, a distinct correlation between the emotional processing and the photo processing—each seems to feed the other. I lose myself in the Photoshop mechanics of sliders, layers, curves, channels, and masks. I don't have any plug-ins and use only a few actions that I create for adding basic adjustment layers. It isn't just about being frugal. I truly enjoy the act of applying the steps and the making of the image-by-image, element-by-element, moment-by-moment choices. And, as I confront the light and shadow on the monitor and explore the direction I want to take it (and hope we are dancing in sync), my unconscious picks at the sliders, layers, curves, etc. of the event that I am attempting to digest. Internally and externally, I attempt to resolve chaos and establish order.
It's cheaper (arguably) and healthier than most therapies and, sometimes, when I have ended my "meditation" I am willing to share the final product before I put it away for a while. (The putting-away allows me to step away from the moment and return when I can more effectively separate the final image from the emotional journey that produced it.) Sometimes I struggle with whether showing work that comes from such a process is a bit like inviting a friend to your group therapy session to observe the proceedings. Still, all our images, after all, reflect who we are, on some level or the other. We can share the work or hide it in a shoebox. My shoebox is already full.