It is an honour and a privilege to photograph people, and it is not something I take lightly. Many families and couples have allowed me into their lives and allowed me to create experiences for them which I hope they will treasure for a long time. I know I do. Many have shared amazing stories with me and I am so greatful for that. Daily.
So this post titled Cancer is a personal aside, but I hope you can see it relates to all of us.
One of my very first clients (although I did not know this at the time) had cancer and passed away a few months later. It was a family session with three generations within the family and I loved this gentleman instantly. When I looked at the photographs after the session I immediately criticised everything that was wrong about them. However the photographs that I took that day, meant so much to the family. A member of the family contacted me after the funeral and said that I captured him at his very best and finest. That meant everything to me. I have photographed children with rare and untreatable cancers and I think of them and their families every day. Every single day.
While I consider myself to be the type of person that see’s and appreciates moments and things, (and try to share these things with my clients in their photos of people they love) I think that a diagnosis of cancer or any brush with your own mortality brings this closer to mind.
Nicholas D. Kristof writes about this “This is trite but also so, so true: A brush with mortality turns out to be the best way to appreciate how blue the sky is, how sensuous grass feels underfoot, how melodious kids’ voices are. Even teenagers’ voices. A friend and colleague, David E. Sanger, who conquered cancer a decade ago, says, “No matter how bad a day you’re having, you say to yourself: ‘I’ve had worse.’ “I don’t mean to wax lyrical about the joys of tumors. But maybe the most elusive possession is contentment with what we have…And, believe me, it’s never too early – cancer or no cancer – to start appreciating our wondrous world, instead of disparaging its imperfections.” (read his full letter over here)
Last year 4 of my friends were diagnosed with cancers of varying types all from different walks of life and all had very different journeys.
One of them, Shireen Hammond (latest award Photographer of the Year 2015 just by the by) very honestly and bravely shared her journey via video entries the start of which is here.
Then this year, my amazing beautiful and witty friend was diagnosed with bile duct cancer you can read her honest and beautiful account of her story here.
For the months of August and September 2015 I will be donating my session fee ($150) for all family/children portraits to Pancare, so if you have been wanting a photo session experience and also want to help and support people who have been diagnosed with cancer please get in contact with me to book your session. Or if you feel inclined just donate directly on the page.
I’d love to hear in the comments below how you try and appreciate things each day