Former NYC News Photographer Performs One-Man Show About Traumatic Past Life

New York City crime scene

Being a news photographer can be incredibly stressful: tight deadlines, grisly murder scenes, and grieving families can take its toll.

One ex-press photographer who used to cover New York during the city’s violent period in the 1990s has channeled his experience into a one-man show entitled If it Bleeds it Leads.

Sean Allison is performing at the Park Theater in Hudson, New York where he reflects on his time covering New York during a period when someone was killed every few hours.

”I didn’t realize how much psychological and emotional trauma the violence had actually done to me,” Allison tells CBS 6.

During his time documenting crime, Allison would attend “four or five” violent crime scenes per night even witnessing a horrific death.

“We’re sitting there and I hear ‘pop pop pop’ and I say, ‘Those are gunshots’,” Allison tells CBS 6. “A guy got into an argument with somebody at a strip club and on his way out the door somebody shot him in the head and I got there before the ambulance was there so I have seen a lot, up close and personal.”

He left the profession after a year and a half but was later diagnosed with a form of PTSD known as a moral injury — something that is usually experienced by war veterans.

“I’d be watching TV with my girlfriend at the time, and I would have very emotional reactions to depicted violence, especially if it was similar to something I had seen and I would become uncontrollable, so I realized there’s something here I need to look into,” Allison tells CBS 6.

After attending therapy, he felt the strength to put on the show to exorcise the things he experienced as a photographer 30 years ago as a way of “processing the trauma.”

The title, If it Bleeds it Leads, is a macabre saying in the news industry referencing how violent incidents often dominate the headlines and airwaves.

“People have been conditioned to what they think violence is, which is that you get shot in the leg and can still run around and save the day,” he tells Times Union.

“I’ve seen people who have bullets in their leg and can tell you for one thing — they die. And for the other thing, the only thing they’re thinking about is getting that bullet out of their leg.”

If it Bleeds it Leads is showing at Park Theater in Hudson on Sunday (Feb 18). Limited tickets here.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.