Seriously clients- fucking stop it.
Life's back to the way it was for Katie and Jaylen. He is in hospital back on TPN and she is back to trying to mother him from his bedside. I asked her if she was ok with this- going back to the life she had after finally having him home for nearly a 10 months. She told me she is happy to be there as it means Jaylen is going to get better and that's all the matters to her.
When I first met Tyler he was well and truly a healthy kid. He had finished treatment for cancer and was learning to cope with being blind but until this year I can only remember him having a cold once. Then cancer came, knocking him about so much I would sometimes wonder if he would ever be the same little guy I knew again. By his 5th or so round of cheamo everything had changed- he was handling the treatment so well every hospital visit was full of so much laughter and playtime you could forget he was sick. But he was and is only an 11 year old boy trying to beat cancer for a second time. His parents have been to hell and back with this treatment, so many sleepless nights, so many what ifs. When the word "surgery" came up no one knew what to think, it was all his family could think about but no one wanted to talk about it. Then it happened last month- all 16 hours of it. A horrible, horrible day I wish I could forget. After surgery the doctors expected Tyler to be in intensive care for 4- 5 days and remain in hospital for 3 weeks. Tyler was out of ICU in 48 hours- making jokes as the nurses changed his bandages. He left hospital 6 days after surgery and these photos were taken a bit over 2 weeks from the day he went under. Tyler is amazing in the truest sense of the word- to think that anyone let alone a little boy, let alone a kid that has been through this before, can sit and smile and laugh after a surgery that the doctors weren't even sure he could survive... well it's staggering. Feel the power indeed.
This is one project I will certainly be getting behind. Mary Ellen and Martin's commitment to telling stories that no one would otherwise know about is phenomenal. I know they will create this project with the dignity, truth and love they bring to everything.
I'm not sure why I ever let myself think life for Katie is settling down. I think because I just want her to have a normal life I let my boundless optimism run wild sometimes and refuse to believe things can't be great for her and Jaylen. These images were taken less than 2 weeks ago. Katie and Jaylen at home, happy, even a little bored. I hadn't posted them because I think they aren't great photos and even Katie remarked that I must have enough photos of her in her pjs on the couch. Last night I got a call from Katie- Jaylen is extremely sick and waiting on emergency surgery, his 15th in 3 years. He will be in hospital for at least a month afterwards while they doctors try and get his stomach pumping again. I am heading in to see her in a few hours and don't really know what I will be walking into. Despite the urgency, despite her telling me that she has never seen Jaylen looking so unwell, when I asked her how she was feeling she replied " You know what? This has become normal for me, it's just another day in my life"
I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Andrew from 50 Lux for the new issue. I met Andrew when I was teaching in Ballarat and we had one of those rapid fire conversations that can happen when you get two people obsesses with photography caffeinated. You can read the interview here but be sure to grab a cuppa before you do- it's a long one!
Shout out- I am looking for a new assistant/ second shooter in 2014. I need you to second shoot weddings and assist on corporate work with me when needed. I would love it if you are a great photographer but the biggest bonus would be if you are willing to learn, hard working, friendly and love photography. If you or someone you know is interested email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . It'll be paid work too peeps!
Katie 2011- my first official shoot with her for my project
Catching up with photographer friends this week to drag them to the group show I'm in, we got to talking about exhibiting and the fleeting self gratifying nature of it. It goes something like this- Shoot, edit, stress, hand over money for a space, hand over money for prints, hang, stress, have an opening, people you have photographed feel proud, get lots of pats on the back, scour media for mentions, visit gallery, de install, never hear about the work again. That pats on the back part is the main reason we all do it but I wonder if that really justifies the work and cost of hanging prints on a gallery wall.
It also got me thinking about my Katie series. It will, in one shape or form, be exhibited next year but I don't know if a gallery is really the right place for it. I had initially wanted a magazine to be the final outcome for the images but the story is too big now not to mention that the magazine that expressed interest has shut down.
I also wonder whether I haven't over saturated my audience with photos of her already? When they are shown in whatever shape or form, most of the images will have already been seen by you. Of course they will have a much stronger edit and look more impressive but ultimately what I wanted with this series is for people to see it and to view Katie and her situation with a compassion and understanding that she doesn't get in her every day life sadly. And I think maybe the photos I've shown have already done that? When the images were featured on icantakephotos facebook page commenters and likers were in full force with their support for Katie in a way I know she has never felt before. I don't know if she would feel that at a gallery or from a magazine article. Which brings me back to the circle of not knowing how to show the photos but still amassing more and more work in the meantime.
What else is there really to say? His story is one of hundreds in the hospital, thousands in the state, hundreds of thousands in the world. Cancer is beyond cruel, it is downright fucking evil. And Tyler has coped with it better than anyone I have ever seen with the disease but all those smiles and giggles can't erase the feeling the rest of us have that no child, especially not him, should have to go through this.
Super proud and a little bewildered that the epically talented Eamon Donnelly chose to feature me on his site The Island Continent today. I met Eamon when we were both freelancing with a sportswear company, and both wondering how we got there. Eamon is a prodigiously talented illustrator who has worked for some of the biggest publications in the world ( and I mean that- he was in the US working for Rolling Stone before I met him). So to have his support means a lot, not to mention the site makes me smile and want to head down to the milk bar for 50c worth of red frogs every time I see it.
And then I have Manuel, who I could not have taken a bad shot of if I tried. Not sure it was as much about his having downs as it was the fact he was so freaking naughty and fast I didn't have time to think and just had to shoot hoping instinct would take over.