For Elkford photographer Tracey Halladay, photography became a powerful tool for her as she went through major health concerns that had her in a dark place emotionally.
“I went through kidney failure and had a transplant in the fall of 2018, and after I had my transplant I figured life was back to normal,” she said. “I felt better than I had in years, and basically saw everything through new eyes. I had accepted before (the transplant) that I was probably going to die.”
Instead, her medications caused side effects and she injured her legs, stopping her from going hiking which she loved, and causing her to fall into depression.
“It was supposed to be take two in life, everything was supposed to be great and I was supposed to get out there and do all these things I couldn’t before,” she said.
“So I started driving the back-roads, and looking at all the storms on the mountains and watching the clouds lift and the mist and the fog move away. As it was moving, there was all these signs of life that was still there, and I realised that what I was seeing was what I was living. Even though there is all this darkness and dreariness around, there’s still light and life that you can find.
“I discovered that even though the world felt so dark and dreary and nothing was going right, there’s always still light, always still signs that make you smile and pull you up out of the depths.”
An amateur photographer for many years, Halladay went professional while she recovered, taking photos of the surrounding landscapes and scenes of Southeast B.C. and Southern Alberta as a means of staying active and occupied.
Many of those photos will be on display at an exhibit at the 1401 Gallery in Cranbrook, between October 7 and November 7, including a main collection, ‘Through The Mist’, which is a black and white series captured during her recovery.
Halladay described the series as very emotional for her
“As I was taking them and going through them, it made me realise that what was happening to me – even though it was awful – it was still better than being dead.
“I’m realising how hard this is to relive. When the gallery opens, its right around the time of the anniversary of me getting my transplant. There’ll be a lot of tears, and laughter and smiles. I want to use this to let people know to keep fighting. Don’t give up, when things feel they’re really dark. There’s always somebody there to listen, to help you understand your feelings, to get them out. For me it was my photography. I realised it was okay to become this emotional over something, and not try to keep it all bottled up inside.”
In 2022, Halladay is doing much better, with a fully-functional kidney thanks to a deceased donor. While her legs aren’t properly healed, she is hiking to take her photos as often as we can, and as of September 9 was headed to Lake O’Hara to go hiking.
“I’ll pay for it the next day – that’s fine.
“I’m older and slower and it takes me longer to get places, but I’ll still get there.”
Tracey Halladay’s photo exhibit, ‘Through the Mist’ will be on display at the 1401 Gallery in Cranbrook from October 7 to November 7 when the gallery is open. The artist’s reception is October 7, between 6-8pm.
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