Photos are for everyone


Late last year I did a photo shoot with a friend. It's difficult to know what to call her, I suppose the most common term would be cancer survivor, certainly not a victim of cancer. She, like many others, has fought very hard to overcome the disease and she decided to have some photos to remember what she looked like after she had finished her chemotherapy. It is easy to forget things as they slip into the past, photography helps us to remember: by freezing time, we create moments that live forever.

While I was waiting for her I started to get nervous, I had never shot anyone suffering from an illness, or at least that I was aware of. All sorts of things were going through my head: all the ‘what ifs’ of a normal shoot plus the added unknown quality of someone who has been through a lot of varying treatment and has lost her hair as a result. A bald man is not unusual, a woman without hair is. When the wig came off she seemed just as beautiful, only differently so. We chatted about what she had been through and how she was, the effect on her family, and very soon the shoot was over.

What made it special for me was that I was being allowed to show something which is normally hidden from society, and in my view I was empowering someone to feel better about the way they looked. In this society, obsessed with image, it's good to show things as they are, especially if this helps people come to terms with difficulties, whether they be mental or physical, from illness or injury.

Check out the work by
Jade Beale and David Jay, both of whom are working hard to challenge popular conception of what is attractive in this modern world.

To the memory of MHG 1939-1999