When he was shooting portraits of the drug-addicted street community in Ottawa’s ByWard Market in 2010, photographer Tony Fouhse met someone who would change his life. For the next year, Tony brought Stephanie MacDonald into his world — and she brought him into hers. It was a friendship and journey that Tony documented through photographs and Stephanie wrote about on slips of paper. Their story forms the basis of Live Through This, a self-published testament to human relationships, weaknesses and dreams.
“The first time I met you was the picture in the bikini top/shorts,” Stephanie writes. “I walked up and asked you what was up? what are you doing? you said that you were taking pictures of the crack addicted and Heroine addicts and you asked to take my picture and I said yes.”
“A couple of weeks went by and you came back and we got talking again. and that’s when you said “is there anything i can do to help you”? and i said i wanted to get into rehab. you told me you would help and of course i thought you were talking the talk but not ganna walk the walk.”
Tony did walk the walk. He did everything he could for Stephanie, at one point inviting her to stay in his home with himself and his wife. Stephanie went through ups and downs, health and personal crises. And Tony gave a play-by-play of his own journey on his blog, Drool. Eventually, they made progress.
I know Tony personally. In addition to his challenging personal projects, he is a much sought-after editorial and commercial photographer. We’ve worked together a number of times. What comes through in Live Through This is something that comes through when you talk to Tony in person. It’s a directness, an authenticity, and zero concern about making you uncomfortable.
Live Through This is not an easy journey to take. It shows the lifestyle of addiction in harsh detail. The intimacy the viewer has with Stephanie — her face, her environment, and her body — feels like a violation, and yet she was happy to share with Tony and with the world. Through it all, Tony, the unseen photographer, is himself exposed by Stephanie’s stare back at him.
Live Through This is available online from Straylight Press.