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Early this week I was working on an annual report for BioRad Laboratories.  While shooting the CEO, we noticed a hummingbird had hit a plate glass window on the side of the building and was lying on the ground stunned.  I stopped shooting and picked up the bird and tried to put him down by a tree nearby, but his grip on my finger was so tight, I couldn’t release him.  So, I decided to let him ride along and kept shooting.  I even put him on my PocketWizard transmitter where he stayed for a while as if he was art directing.  Although he did have a bird’s eye view of what we were shooting.

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studio news\katie . . .

We recently received a heartfelt note of thanks from this Facing Chemo participant.  “…this project has brought healing to me in a way I would have never known I needed.  It’s reinforced that my core is essentially the same beneath the effects of chemo.”  This particular image struck a cord, “despite all of the things cancer has tried to rob from me, in this image, I see, and now know that cancer will never rob me of joy!  This image made me happy…  Bob obviously has a gift and I am so grateful he is using it to do this project.”

Things are falling into place in preparation for the Facing Chemo opening this September.  The book is in design and the first image has been printed – and it’s truly remarkable.

Facing Chemo - a photographic project

I’ve shot video for The Dailey Method before – the What Is?
video on their home page has been viewed over 50,000 times.  So, when this exercise method with over 40 studios around the US, asked me to shoot a viral video on location in Chicago and San Francisco this spring, I jumped at it.
The goal: to increase TDM’s social media presence.

The production was quick and lean, just an assistant doing lighting and sound while I shot and directed.  We started by asking regulars at their studios, “What does it mean to you to Do It Dailey?”  We riffed from there.  We have hours of footage for additional pieces – this is the first:

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Project Overview:

This personal project originated from a shoot I did of a woman who was about to undergo a bone marrow transplant.  I had photographed her years earlier when she had just found out she had cancer, before any treatment.  I offered to photograph her during the process, but she declined.  Years later, during another round of chemotherapy, she contacted me asking if I would photograph her.  Having gone through it before, she realized that there would be some value to chronicling the experience, for herself.  The hour+ that we spent together was a wonderful experience for both of us.

I’ve tried to describe the reason why I want to photograph more chemotherapy patients and the closest I can come is that there is something about the face, the expression that is more apparent.  I’ve been a commercial portrait photographer for 20 years, and I was moved by the clarity of the moment.  Clearly there is a literal aspect to it, without the hair that we have to embellish, create, or hide behind, our face is left more present, in a way.  However, that aside, there is a personal quality to the experience – the result of many things – one most likely being the personal reflection going on during the treatment period.  In the beginning I wanted to call this C Faces – not only for the C, but more for the fact that there is a quality to seeing the face that you don’t normally get.

Sessions take approximately 90 minutes and can take place either at the subject’s home or at my location in the SF East Bay.  If you know someone who would be interested in being photographed for this project, please forward this link or send them my email address – bob@roberthouser.com.  I will give files from the shoots to the subjects for their personal use.

 

 

Young woman, pensive about her challenges with cancerrobert houser photography ad in select magazine

Shutterbug magazine ran a feature story on the business of editorial photography in the last issue. My editorial work and business commentary was featured.

Shutterbug feature on editorial photography featuring Robert Houser

listen and play

I was commissioned by a pharmaceutical company to photograph executives and patients for their corporate collateral and website. I flew to DC to photograph the executive director of the National Organization for Rare Diseases on the steps of the Capitol, and also a young girl with Morquio Syndrome at her home outside DC. I had learned ahead of time that the disease was very rare, and unlike some of the other MPS diseases, there currently was no treatment available. [MPS – mucopolysaccharidoses, involves not having enough of a certain enzyme to break down large sugar molecules.] While a clinical trial for Morquio Syndrome was about to begin, the family didn’t yet know if their daughter would be in the study group.

So, I’m at her home, not sure what to expect – the story I had been told was quite sad. Immediately upon arriving the four year old girl asks me to come play in her room. I take a few pictures of her with her mother on the stairs, and then we head to her room. She asks me to wait outside because “we’re going to play princess.” She had to change to her princess dress. Once invited in, I lie down on my stomach, camera in hand, and I listen.

She began bringing out her stuffed animals and telling me all about them – who was who – what their names were – what they liked. She pulled out a book and sat in front of me and read it to me. All the while I listened, photographing her. It was as if I didn’t have a camera in hand, that played no roll in our conversation, our play. It was just something I used once in a while. Reflecting on it, I wonder if she’d grown used to dealing with adults that had some other purpose, some other thing in their hand. She had undergone numerous surgeries already in her four years. But on that day, that didn’t seem to play a roll. To her she had loving parents, a sister who she adored, a room full of stuffed animals and books.

And, she had her princess dress. Before she climbed into bed for her afternoon nap, almost two hours after I’d begun photographing her, our time playing, she said, “How about we dance like a princess.” With her blue Cinderella dress, and no heed to her slightly deformed legs and feet, she began to twirl. Again, I listened, photographed and stayed with her – at that moment, she was a princess, you could never tell her otherwise.

I smiled and thought about her all afternoon – the only sadness that crept into my mind was wondering how long it had been that I had spent that much time on my own son’s floor – listening, and playing.

Please Note: Vimeo is having a problem with Safari at the moment
The video below is working in Firefox and other browsers.

Princess turning from Robert Houser on Vimeo.