Sorry, full access to our website is available to Only!
Become a Member today and get benefits listed below.
In Beth's words, "Cancer is quiet, it sneaks up in the night." The project “Beth’s Journey” started when Beth contacted me only weeks after discovering she had cancer - bilateral, concentric, invasive mixed mammary carcinoma to be exact. Beth wanted to have me create photographs as keepsakes for her young daughter. She was confident that she would beat the cancer, but wanted her daughter to know what she looked like before surgery.
During our meeting to discuss the photoshoot, I proposed three separate sessions: one pre op, the second immediately following the operation, and the third about one year after the surgery. We both wanted to create something larger then Beth’s initial “need.” We spoke to breast cancer survivors and came to the conclusion that there is very little post operation support for those who have gone through mastectomies. We agreed to create a blog that would include Beth’s journaling images interspersed with my images. The blog would be an interactive platform networking people who wanted to learn more about the experience from not just Beth, but others who would be involved as well as a resource for post operative advice and expectations. The blog is close to launching and discussions have started around funding a larger initiative - broadening the project to others and expanding through interviews and writing.
These particular images are from her second photo shoot, less then one week following her double mastectomy, where they also removed extra fat from her belly to help reshape her breasts. At her home, still ripe with decorations from her welcome home party, Beth wanted to show an unfiltered documentation of her state, inclusive of drainage receptacles. We explored and captured the rawness, overwhelming burden, and wide range of emotions she was experiencing.
"I was in a daze. I had drainage tubes coming out of me. I was on morphine and residual anesthesia. Everything was slow motion. My movements were slow, my pain was dull, my mind was relaxed and I was thankful that I made it out alive and in good spirits. You and your assistant got busy moving all of the furniture out of the way - decidedly keeping the decorations my husband and daughter had hung to welcome me home after 5 days in the hospital.
At the second photo shoot, I wasn’t as limber or full of life and expression as I was a week earlier. Beginning with me in my nightgown, it wasn’t long before I disrobed, unabashedly. The funniest thing about my surgery was my candid behavior in the hospital with visitors and doctors - proud of my new breasts and flashing them to anyone will to gaze upon them. I wonder if having already done the first nude photo shoot, it must have removed a thick layer of modesty. By this second session, I had no problem baring my scars or my breasts.
This photo journal is a project that is way bigger than my original intention. Now, having done it, and knowing that it’s actually going to live on, well after today, it is bringing me full circle. It’s keeping things real and in perspective.
I didn’t want the photos to be about my breasts, I wanted it to capture my heart. My strength as well as my fear.
Out of adversity, there is great beauty. Great hope. Great strength. That in Art, there is a story, a naked truth or a hidden secret. For me, choosing photography as the medium to portray my image; it offered a realness where a painting leaves guesswork in the hand of the artist and the eyes of the viewers. Cancer, in all of it’s ugliness and sneakiness had to be exposed and captured and used like a crutch for everyone it affects.
I chose Dave, because he does more than snap a pretty picture, he reveals true intentions. Dave is professional, insightful, respectful and engaging. To my surprise, there were very few images that were not usable for the project. Dave surpassed my expectations by leaps and bounds." - Words by Beth