This 34-year-old nature photographer had been suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts when he first found his passion for taking pictures of insects—and his work is now featured in National Geographic.
Matt Doogue says that he tried to take his own life nine years ago after hitting “rock bottom.”
“The moment is blurry. In the lead-up, I was so paranoid and angry that I couldn’t leave the house,” says Doogue. “When I attempted suicide I knew I needed to see someone.
“I went to the doctors and got antidepressants and counseling, but I knew that I needed something more—and that’s when I started photography.”
Now a dad-of-two, Doogue found that looking at insects through a camera lens helped him in ways he could never have imagined—and it proved to be the lifeline he needed.
It had a “calming effect” that helped him to “disconnect” from stress; and his astonishing images, showing insects and spiders in stunning detail against brightly colored backgrounds, caught the eye of publishers at National Geographic.
“I ended up as [one of their] featured photographers,” recalled Doogue. “It was the pinnacle of my career. It felt incredible.”
Originally from Salford, Greater Manchester, he now lives in Armadale, West Lothian. Though he fears that Scotland is in the grip of an “epidemic” of male suicide, he believes that sharing his love of nature photography can help others to cope with their mental health issues as well.
“I think the problem is this ‘man-up’ approach; the idea that men need to be strong puts so much pressure on young males to be fine all the time,” says Doogue. “This is why I try and be so open about my own experience.
“Whenever I am out with my camera, I don’t think about my other worries. It is just me and the environment around me,” says Doogue. “You can lose yourself with a spider making their web.”
Doogue, whose work can be found on Matt’s Macro Photography, is set to speak to students at Edinburgh Napier University about the impact nature photography can have on mental health on November 20th.
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