Travel photography usually conjures up an image of a person heading to the world’s most remote locations with a camera in hand. But the “Agoraphobic Traveller” found a way to explore the world from her computer using Google Street View – and turned it into an amazing photography series.
Jacqui Kenny is originally from New Zealand, but has called London home for more than ten years. She told Lonely Planet that she was diagnosed with agoraphobia about eight years ago, but lived with extreme anxiety and panic attacks for more than 20 years. Heading outside of her comfort zone makes her extremely anxious, and with the simplest journey seeming daunting, travelling long distances on planes or trains presents even more of a challenge.
But Jacqui discovered another way to travel – looking at the world on Google Street View. “It was exciting to explore this parallel universe, frozen in time. I was discovering the most amazing cities and towns I didn’t know existed,” she said. It was then that she began taking scenes captured on the site and turning them into a specific branch of photography. “I’ve always had a passion for photography and I loved the fact that through Street View you can capture emotional content with images that were taken for utility purposes only”.
Jacqui has been able to explore the world on Street View, posting images on her Instagram account, the Agoraphobic Traveller. Taking her love of the “beauty and uniqueness in every day scenes”, she started the account to not only show the images, but also to create a platform to talk about mental health. Jacqui has been taking part in cognitive behaviour therapy and has practised mindfulness for years to address her anxieties. But she found that being creative helped to keep her focused, positive and boosted her self-esteem.
The response to the account has been amazing, according to Jacqui, connecting her with other people who have similar struggles. “I also think there are so many misconceptions around mental health and I try to highlight them when I can. The word ‘weakness’ is often associated with mental health. This frustrates me enormously because some of the strongest people I know live with mental health challenges. For me personally, taking a plane ride takes a lot of strength and bravery, it’s the opposite of weak,” she said.
Using her creativity has not only brought mental health issues forward, but it’s also encouraged her to travel beyond the computer screen. Jacqui was given the chance to show her work in SoHo, New York. The exhibition was sponsored by Google and Jacqui was able to invite the Instagram community that has sprung up around the account to come and see it. In the future, she is even hoping to exhibit the work in some of the countries featured in the images.