Photography as a way of dealing with the loss of both my parents in a fatal crash

Posted by ryanjackson on Jun 20, 2011 in Ryan's Life |

Of course I mounted a remote camera for my parents funeral

This is probably the longest I’ve ever gone without updating my blog. Though I did leave it on a high note.
February was a crazy month. It was my 28th birthday, My 360 Dodgeball video went viral, I had three new job opportunities open up for me, I was on cloud nine.

The night of my birthday I said to my good friend Kirk “you know things are going so good for me right now I’m afraid something bad is going to happen”
And then it did.
Guess I should have knocked on wood.
On February 12th, 2011 both of my parents were killed in a head-on collision in Saskatchewan. Ironically they driving back from a Funeral.

As a journalist I have covered countless tragedies. It's weird when it's your own.

I had a freelance job that morning. I was exhausted from shooting the 360-video and I just had to do this one job and then I could go home and nap all afternoon.
I still had to mark my MacEwan student‘s assignments and I was dreading the hours of time that it would take.

Then the phone rang. The number was blocked and usually when call display says Blocked I just ignore it but this time I answered for some reason.
It was an RCMP officer calling me to say that my parents were in an accident and my mother had been killed, my father was in an ambulance heading to Saskatoon and wasn’t expected to make it.

It’s an indescribable feeling when you get a phone call like that. The world almost stands still. Everything slows down. I went into shock.
The officer needed a contact in Saskatoon that he could call. I was the first number on their cell phone so they called me first but I was in Edmonton.
My Father was in an ambulance on the way to Saskatoon and he needed someone to come meet him.
I couldn’t think so I immediately went on my laptop and went online to look up Phone numbers.
I started packing. If we left right away we could be at the hospital by midnight.
As I threw random clothes into a suitcase the RCMP officer called again. My father had just died in the ambulance.


Photography really helped me deal with this. It’s important to stay busy and have a purpose when you are going through tough times. I had two video cameras and mounted a remote camera at the back of the church. My good friend Liam Richards and Derek Mortensen were kind enough to setup a photo booth at the funeral. I’m sure a lot of people thought it was weird to have a photo booth but I wanted to have a visual record of everyone who was there. Something special. A funeral is a celebration of life.

It's okay to smile.

My brother Shawn and me.

It's amazing how far friends and family will fly to support you. Thank you all.

I captured hundreds of pictures and panoramas of everything that happened in those crazy days and this helped me understand why I need photography in my life. It freezes a moment in time so you can properly reflect and process what it means.

Panorama of the burial site.

360 view of everyone standing around the grave site.

My brother watching mom being carried out.

It doesn't matter if you have a cell phone camera or a $5,000 SLR. When you see a picture, snap it.

Understanding how my dad was an artist helps me in my photography.

My parents in 1980 being awesome.

Fathers day

It's amazing what photos you dig up when making a slide show.

My first front page at the Journal. This photo means a lot to me.


Jun 24, 2011 at 11:50 am

Thank you for this inspiring entry. All my best wishes goes out to you and your family.

– etegration

Jul 7, 2011 at 9:51 am

“A funeral is a celebration of life.”

Well said.

Take care.

Jul 26, 2011 at 9:49 am

Sorry for the loss of both your parents. Learned this through Francis status on Facebook…

This is hard. I love the way you are dealing with this. A passion does help heal the pain! You are really inspiring!

Take care and keep living your passion. Your parents will always be with you, in your heart.

Andrew Spearin
Sep 18, 2011 at 11:56 am

Ryan, it was shocking to hear the news of your loss. You have always been an inspiration of positivity and enthusiasm.

Chanley A Wellings
Dec 12, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Sorry to hear of this news. Ryan and Shawn best of luck. When I had learned of this, it took me back to the life and times of our school days. Hanging out in your dads garage of misc. stuff and your moms dirt basement in the basement. You do wonderful work just like your parents.




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