A Sense of Home
*Disclaimer: I’ve been torn about how best to discuss the different portrait series' of my family that I'm working on, in terms of professionalism and also in terms of privacy & appropriateness. I’ve ultimately decided though that if I’m writing about these images (the process of photographing them or editing them) and only vaguely referencing the emotional context to them, I’d be dishonest.
So that being said, this is the first series of portraits I shot when I arrived home to Memphis. My father had already undergone 5 days of radiation on his brain and needed to undergo 5 more. I wanted to have images of my parents that were clean and expressive, that showed them in their home and that gave a sense of peace & personality that they share.
It was important that we shot these before he finished the radiation, because the radiation treatments would begin to show physically by the final round.
What strikes me about so many of these images is their dignity. And the bravery it takes to do this with dignity: that they accept the circumstance while not giving into despair. And still they allow themselves to be vulnerable.
What has always amazed me about each of my parents is the willingness they share to be vulnerable, to change even as they age. They raised my brother and me to challenge ourselves, to look at the world with openness, and they have continued to do the same: I am inspired by how both of them continue to grow, challenge their beliefs, and are willing to be genuinely vulnerable with one another.
We wanted images of them that were beautiful, before the chemo and radiation set in, before the stresses of cancer showed on each of them. I am grateful for this series of images the most.
* 20 May 2014 - We received the best news possible this morning: The CT results showed that chemotherapy is working better than his doctors predicted. The cancer spanned from his brain all the way through both femurs and almost everywhere in between, and for the time being, cancer is in retreat. It is amazing. And still, the type of cancer my father has is incurable. It will return. But we will take these blessings as they come. These last number of months have been filled with blessings in the most unforeseen ways. At times through joy, at times sorrow. And still, this process is filled with some things that are undeniably beautiful and completely unexpected. So I am awed and grateful.