Focus on the moment
For Vineyard photographer Michael Blanchard, art is about healing and recovery—for himself and for others.
“I had gotten sober in 2010 and gone into a rehab facility for three months. When you first go into recovery, you’re trying to find your way without alcohol or drugs or whatever, and it’s very hard,” he recalls. “I was pretty much starting over again.”
Then he attended a graduation ceremony where one of the speakers, making a point about finding passion and meaning in life, cited a man who had taken up photography. The idea resonated with Blanchard, and he went online to begin learning. “I studied video after video. I bought a camera, and learned what an F-stop was. I was scared to death.” But he pursued it, and as he did, visiting Martha’s Vineyard took on new meaning for him.
“I love it here. I came here for a reason,” he says. “When I was trying to heal and find meaning in all I’d gone through, Martha’s Vineyard was the place I regained that hope.”
Last fall, he moved full time to the island, where he co-owns The Crossroads Gallery in Oak Bluffs and now works with Island Health Care as a mental health and substance abuse access coordinator. Having published one book, “Fighting for My Life,” he has now retired from his former job as chief operating officer of a Maine firm and is working on a second book. He also leads seminars on using photography to heal.
And he keeps taking pictures. “You can go to the same place a thousand times and it’s never the same, because of the light,” he says. “There’s real passion in going back to the places where you’ve had such significant changes in who you are, so it never gets old.” —Deb Boucher Stetson