Photographing the Personal
Six weeks ago everything changed for my family. One day everything was normal, the next day everything was cancer. That's how it feels at least. BC & AD: Before Cancer & After Diagnosis. It seems simplistic to summarize life as that kind of stasis, but it's difficult not to feel that way: diagnosis is a trauma.
So we got the news: my father has cancer. Not the melanoma-type; not the "we'll just zap it with some radiation & chemo and everything will be okay"-type. He's got the really bad kind, the kind that feels like a storm on the horizon, barrelling towards us but we can't tell when exactly it's due to hit. The kind that seems unreal. The kind that when you bring it up, people go silent.
I'm a control freak; anyone's who's ever worked with me can attest to that. So in the week between diagnosis and flying home to Memphis, I paced. I walked everywhere. It was compulsive: change my environment to affect some sense of change. Day 1 AD, Day 2 AD, Day 3 AD, ... And of course, everything remained unchanged.
As the week progressed, as the shock began to wear off, as I began to come to terms with the reality that there is nothing I can do but be a support for my parents, I decided that I would document this period through photography. I would document my process; I would document their process and my brother's process. What does 'our process' look like, one that so many families go through, something that's so universal and also so uniquely personal?
Over the coming weeks, months, and hopefully years, I will be writing about and posting images of my family's process with cancer. We started a handful of different portraits, highlighting the ascetic of 'home' that my parents have built together. I also wanted to shoot the microexpression series of all four of us. It's been overwhelming working on them at times. We plan on replicating them throughout this journey, as we are each changed through and by this process. My hope is to honor the dignity my parents face this with and the vulnerability that we each feel as this progresses. My hope is to highlight the love we each feel, in both joy and sorrow.
Here's the first portrait of my parents in their living room: