18 February 2019

Life through a new lens

Just Better Care customer Lachie discovered the joy of photography as a 10-year-old. After a primary lateral sclerosis diagnoses, he returned to his former passion with a new zest to capture the places, people and experiences that he loves.

Lachie’s first exposure to photography was unwrapping a Brownie film camera on his tenth birthday. It was a basic box, black and white camera, but for a 10-year-old living on a sheep station in northwest Queensland, it was all he needed.

Station life was captured through his lens: grazing sheep, wide open spaces, the blistering sun belting down on the red earth. Rather than hunting for objects or scenes to shoot, Lachie captured life as it was happening. A style of shooting he continues today.

“I love all aspects of photography, from capturing those magic moments, to landscape photography and recording my travels through Australia’s red dirt,” Lachie said.

“I try to capture the beautiful moments as they take place around me. Life can change in a flash, so make sure you seize the moment.”

Lachie put down the camera for a few years while he pursued other interests. As a teenager in the late 1960s, Lachie moved with his family to Townsville in the far north of Queensland to complete his schooling and a plumbing apprenticeship. And get a taste for city living.

His passion for photography returned years later after his life took a slight change in course. Lachie was applying for a job on a mine site in the early 2000s when he failed the agility
test. He immediately knew something was wrong.

Consequent visits to his local doctor and then to a Brisbane specialist confirmed there was an issue, but the testing – MRI scans and a lumbar puncture – failed to result in a diagnosis.

It was a couple of years later when a Townsville neurologist diagnosed Lachie with multiple sclerosis. Lachie was coming to terms with the news and how this condition would impact his life when subsequent tests led to a new diagnosis.

“Because of further developments with my condition, a different neurologist re-diagnosed primary lateral sclerosis (PLS), which is a sub-type of motor neurone disease,”
Lachie explained.

“PLS affects the voluntary muscles in my body, which makes the muscles weak, particularly in my legs, arms and face. It was difficult to comprehend what had happened, but I haven’t let it stop me from doing what I love.”

Still living in Townsville, Lachie treks back to the red dirt with his three younger children in tow, or to visit his two older children and their families whenever he has the chance.

His walls at home are plastered in the countless photos he has captured from all over Australia. Persistence, Lachie said, along with support from his mother, three sisters and five children has been the key to keeping his life, and passion, on track.

“Even if it is slow and a lot of effort expended to get the results you want, never give up, always be persistent. You never know what life is going to throw at you, and having this condition can be challenging sometimes, but it won’t stop me.

“My mobility is a big issue in taking a lot of photos as I can’t just jump out of the car and run up the hill or rock hop out to the middle of the river to get ‘that’ shot. A lot of my photos, especially when travelling, are taken out the window of my parked car after a lot of manoeuvring to get into the right position,” he said.

“I have a very good camera, a Canon D700, with a couple of lenses and a basic editing program on my computer, but apart from that I have very little other equipment. No tripod, no extra lighting and no fancy programs. I like the images to be raw and real.”

With support from Just Better Care Townsville, Lachie sells his artwork at local markets, getting
assistance with set up and pack down of the stall. Following some advice from a friend, Lachie has also started leasing his artworks to businesses and individuals.

Just Better Care can provide support at home and in the community, including personal care, respite support, and social and lifestyle support for older Australians, and people living with a disability.

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