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Michael Blanchard Gives us the Inside Story on his latest book ‘Through A Sober Lens: A Photographer’s Journey’

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Over a decade ago Michael Blanchard arrived at Martha’s Vineyard, and there a new story unfolded, one of addiction and then recovery after losing everything from his family and possessions to his soul. In his groundbreaking book ‘Through A Sober Lens: A Photographer’s Journey’ Michael takes us on his awe-inspiring journey, which is paved with faith, love, and hope, as well extraordinary natural beauty. Without a doubt ‘Through A Sober Lens: is a masterful work of encouragement and sheer artistic talent.

We were thrilled when we got a chance to catch up with this epic artist to find out more about his story and his work.

There are so many different types of photography, why did you choose Inspirational Photography vs. Wildlife Photography or Fashion Photography etc. and what advice do you have for others that are looking to follow in your footsteps?

This may sound a little corny but I didn’t choose inspirational photography, it chose me.  I was the COO of a company in Maine and 3 years into sobriety I discovered photography after listening to a speech about a bipolar alcoholic business man who found connection and peace in the taking and editing of photos.  I had no idea what I was doing.  I had no plan.  I found connection and peace out on the beaches, fields and in forests.  I was there for the connection, not the photographs. People seemed to like my photos.  I knew however, the taking and editing of photos wasn’t enough.  I felt the need to give back.  I took photographs that reflected the turmoil inside me.  I was able to get things out of my system by embedding them in the pictures.  I started to write my thoughts and attach them to the pictures.  I came “out of the closet” and told the world who I was.  Inspirational photography was born.  Photographs are not the end, but rather the means to connecting to spirit and helping others.

In ‘Through A Sober Lens: A Photographer’s Journey’ you talk about your sobriety and how it has given you a deeper understanding of yourself, and how love, hope, faith and contribution factor into your life. Getting sober and dealing with addition is no small feat, how did you get started on that path? Was it an ‘in your face type of experience’ where you knew you had to get help or was a subtle progression of events that lead you down a path of healing and getting sober?

The process was a gradual progression over 2-3 years.  I would post a photo and write words and then get 100’s of messages on how the words helped people feel less isolated and filled with hope.  I didn’t understand!!!  I had a hard time accepting I had any kind of talent.  I wasn’t self-taught and never had an artistic ability.  I was never trained to write so it seemed implausible I was helping people to the extent revealed in the messages.  It took a long time for me to accept my downfall and comeback was necessary to become the man I was always supposed to be.  It took a long time to accept my value as a person and someone who could actually help others heal.

Recovery often has many challenges and successes along the way. What was your greatest challenge, and conversely what do you think was your greatest success?

The greatest challenge was the loss of my wife at the time.  I had never had my heart broken until then.  This was coupled with very few people in my work environment that either trusted me or wanted me back.  They were embarrassed to have a COO with 3 drunk driving arrests.

My greatest success was my acceptance of the fact I had a disease and not a character defect.  I started to love myself again and that carried me through difficult times.  I knew I would die if a drank alcohol again.  I was also able to break down the challenges into bite sized pieces.  There is no way you can be successful if you look beyond the moment.  One day at a time is truly the only way to make it back

Creating a book like this one takes a lot of time and sweat. Did you learn anything new about yourself during the process?

I learned that writing from the heart is way more important than putting the commas in the right place!  LOL I needed team members to help me with that.  A person once asked if I used a “ghost-writer”?  I was flattered with the implication that it was written too well for a photographer bum!!  I got a D- in a creative writing class in college.  Writing from the heart overcomes all challenges.

‘Through A Sober Lens: A Photographer’s Journey’ is a brilliant and beautiful book, so I have to ask do you have another in the works? Or some other project you can tell us about?

I love you for saying It’s a brilliant and beautiful book!!  My first book “Fighting for my life” was published in 2014.  The 3000 copies sold out, so we decided to create a second edition with the same story but all new photographs.  It came out absolutely beautiful and arrives this week.  I have the “urge” to write another book.  I will let my higher power decide when, and what topic.  I truly believe words and photos come through my but are not from me.  I will keep my ears open!

From East Coast to West Coast what is one take away that you would like your West Coast fans who read this article to take away from your book ‘Through A Sober Lens?’

I have so many followers from the West Coast.  Martha’s Vineyard is as far away from the West Coast as you can get, geographically.  But we are truly united in our need to grow as people and help others.  Hope is a concept that is universal.  Alcohol, drugs, PTSD, depression are all maladies of the soul that require isolation.  Regardless of what coast you are on, find a passion that takes you out of isolation and back to connection and community.  PS.  I am planning road trips to Death Valley, Sequoia etc.  I will bring a few books with me!

You can find ‘Through A Sober Lens: A Photographer’s Journey’ by Michael Blanchard on Amazon.

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Sharon was always fascinated by the workings of the human body and for her, nothing was better than being a health news journalist. By creating news pieces for the latest happenings in the world of human health, Sharon aims to create awareness among the readers to help them include better and healthy options in their daily lifestyle.

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