In order to be empathetic, a person needs to truly experience the emotions another is feeling to understand the struggle from their point of view, not their own. Jason Lindsey uses his photography as a means to express what he is seeing and feeling. A central theme in his work is in honoring people who serve. But serving doesn’t mean just military. Those who serve extends to healthcare workers and public servants too. We wanted to know a bit about why that is. Here is our conversation with Jason.
You are a naturally curious person, wanting to learn more about the people and circumstances that surround you. Why have you chosen to focus on those who serve?
I am inspired by the selfless acts and sacrifices they make, and I am searching for their why. I am curious about why they decided to become a nurse, a soldier, or a firefighter. The more in-depth story and meaning are always the most interesting for me.
Because of your son’s health challenges at a young age, you have spent quite a bit of time with medical professionals, many of whom had empathy for your family’s situation. Has understanding and compassion played a part in how you tell stories through your imagery?
Yes, empathy has played a big part in my storytelling. When I look back now, I see I have always had a strong sense of compassion, but it certainly got kicked into high gear when our son, Björn, was born, and we spent four months in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit three hours from home. About a month into our stay, we moved to a larger Children’s hospital. When we arrived, they said we don’t only treat the patient; we treat the entire family. That philosophy made a huge difference, and we saw it every day. Having an empathetic mindset about the family created an entirely different mindset of care. It also improved outcomes for the patient because the Doctors and Nurses understood that a two-month-old patient needs the love and support of their parents. So by having a mindset of treating the family, the parents are better able to take care of their child.
After leaving the hospital, we had home nursing 18 hours a day for six years. The passion and dedication of the nurses taking care of our son were life-changing.
Building trust and a rapport with your son’s support team is essential to you. Once you established a relationship with your son’s team, did this change how you looked to capture and present caregivers’ imagery? Is this a thank you of sorts?
By building relationships with his medical team, opening up to them, and them seeing our absolute passion and dedication to Björn, they truly gave it their all. In turn, Björn received even better care. I am not sure this group of images is a Thank You exactly, but I am working on a new project now that is very much a Thank You. I can’t wait to share it.
Empathy provides context, which leads to understanding one another. Military members are the first people we think of when referencing, “those that serve.” You have worked on several campaigns documenting different branches. Where does the interest in military imagery originate?
My interest in the military is really at the individual soldier or service member. The dedication and sacrifice they make is honorable. A college friend served in Iraq with the Marines. He was my roommate for a year when he returned from Iraq, and we spent many many nights talking about his experiences. He had a tough time transitioning back to civilian life. That experience gave me an understanding and empathy for the human aspects of the military. For the first time, I understood more about the sacrifices every service member is making. Their dedication, their passion, their willingness to die for something they believe in took ahold of me. The idea that they would risk their lives for something bigger than themselves feels counter to much of our self-serving culture today. I am drawn to people that help serve others.
What does “People Who Serve” mean to you?
My definition of that phrase goes beyond the military. People who serve include nurses, firefighters, police, social workers, teachers, and caregivers, to name a few. It means anyone helping to make our world better for all of us.
Follow Jason on Instagram for more in-depth imagery that helps us live our best lives.