Jacqui Kenny, who operates under the name ‘The Agoraphobic Traveller’ is a British landscape photographer with severe agoraphobia. The condition means that she experiences debilitating anxiety in crowds and new places, thinking that she might experience a panic attack without access to proper care. However, just like most people, Kenny still feels an intense wanderlust, a need to travel despite her phobia. Hence, she found that one way to do it is virtual, by roaming Google Street View—a Google Maps navigation feature that, with the help of 360-degree cameras, allows people to experience the streets of the world as if they are standing on them.  

This habit led to a tendency to capture the different sceneries, imbuing them with her signature calming mood & tone. Therefore, The Agoraphobic Traveller is able to take landscape photographs without ever leaving the safety and comfort of her own home. By capturing and sharing these photographs, Kenny is also raising awareness for others affected by agoraphobia. She combats negative stereotypes that think of them as lazy and entitled people who are looking for excuses to opt out of leaving their homes.

She has also utilized her art and platform to raise funds for the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, all to support research that will help agoraphobics and people suffering from other behavioural disorders to lead better lives. This is why her work is aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of Reduced Inequalities and Good Health and Well-Being.

Google Street View - Scenes from the USA by The Agoraphobic Traveller. Image courtesy of @streetview.portraits/Instagram.

Photographs taken by The Agoraphobic Traveller appear serene. Most of the time, viewers cannot find people in them, but the photographs tend to show traces of people’s existence. They show parked cars, rows of houses in housing complexes and lonesome landmarks. Their pastel hues and controlled composition recall the photographs of Luigi Ghirri, with a similar meditative quality. At the end of the day, they look like faded photographs found in family albums. Appearing as memories of vacations abroad from a few decades ago, as if The Agoraphobic Traveller had imbued every ounce of their longing for travel into these photographs.

Google Street View - Kissing Horses, Mongolia by The Agoraphobic Traveller. Image courtesy of @streetview.portraits/Instagram.

It is estimated that agoraphobia affects around 1.3 percent of adults worldwide, with the number rising to 2.4 percent in adolescents and 10.4 percent in those aged over 65 years old. Despite this, current medication and therapy targets only symptoms of agoraphobia without addressing its underlying conditions. This is why The Agoraphobic Traveller’s photographs go a long way. They help to humanize agoraphobics by showing how they too yearn to travel and see new places, despite being hindered by their illness. 

Find out more about photographs by The Agoraphobic Traveller and their other initiatives by checking their Instagram on @streetview.portraits.

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