The Agoraphobic Traveller
The roads available on Google Street View have led Jacqui Kenny to places that she never thought she could go. She is one of the thousands of people around the world who experiences agoraphobia. For her, even the thought of leaving the house is enough to generate stress and panic attacks, making everyday activities like going to the shop or to work difficult, or even impossible. Her home became her safe haven, imposing tall borders on the size of her world.
It was one day when she found herself clicking through Google Street View when the idea came to her. She stumbled across an arresting scene of a dog running behind the Street View camera car. Jacqui positioned the framing, took a screenshot and thought to herself:
'That’s a beautiful picture.'
She went through remote places in parts of the world that had always fascinated her, such as Peru and Mongolia, diligently poking down side roads and out-of-the-way places, capturing the arresting moments that called out to her. The more she explored with Street View, the more she began to find the frames that spoke to her.
And what she found in these seemingly otherworldly locations really spoke to people. Encouraged by her family to share them, she’s amassed over 50K followers on her Instagram account in just a few months. Her photos, evoking the remoteness that she herself so longs for, speak to something deeper than just a well-framed photo. Travelling this way, being able to go to the places that she could only imagine, has allowed Jacqui to find her voice. She’s able to express herself, which means a lot for someone who finds it difficult to venture outside their comfort zone. As she puts it:
'Agoraphobia and anxiety limit my ability to travel, so I've found another way to see the world.'
While disorientating, this newfound exposure has helped her feel comfortable stepping out of her shell. In the autumn of 2017, Jacqui’s work was featured in her first solo gallery show in Manhattan. In a partnership with Stories For Good she is selling limited edition prints to raise money for mental health charities.
For Jacqui, she knows that there’s a long road ahead of her, but she’s excited to continue to develop her photography. She doesn’t know where it’ll take her, but it’s a step in the right direction.