We had a great opportunity to work with the folks from GA Communications on a project for BioMarin this past fall photographing a series of patients. We spent three days on location around the Bay Area making images that had to have a strong sense of flared backlight. While we couldn’t shoot all of the images late in the day, we made use of both ideally placed sunlight and a strobe set far off in the distance. For the swing shot I made a swing from an old piece of redwood and some nice looking hemp rope. Using high rollers for a large silk above, we slid medium rollers underneath with a speed rail tube across so that we could place the swing wherever we wanted. I knew we weren’t going to find a perfectly placed low hung tree branch : >
Yes, I got into the pool. I had to. With the tether cord held by an assistant and connected to a computer on dry land, I shot with a long lens handheld. Most of the project was photographed using Canon’s new 5dsr 50 megapixel camera and a ProPhoto B1 in the trees. And, lots of large silks.
This week we completed the framing of the latest Facing Chemo exhibit – Before & After. The show hung this past Wednesday at a corporate event at Genentech. We are looking forward to seeing the show hang again soon.
We are back in the studio this week after traveling quite a bit of traveling for BioMarin. At the beginning of this month we took off to the Midwest to photograph a couple of amazing people with the rare disease called MPS-IV. The warm welcome into these people’s homes and spending time getting to know them is something that will stick with us for a while. It was incredibly rewarding to see into their lives and capture them as people, not as patients. Our First stop was Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Upon stepping into the airport we quickly realized that we had arrived at the peak of quail hunting season. We were greeted with a huge sign that read, “Welcome Hunters.” Being immersed in hunting culture from childhood, I had to get a selfie with some orange. The “shoot”went well. We had an amazing crew and walked away with some great images.
Next Stop: Fort Scott, Kansas. We got to explore acres of farmland and lose a few games of CLUE to our host and his siblings. The Farm was beautiful, we found a rad barn to photograph. It was so inspiring we had to go antiquing after the shoot and picked up a few things for The Ranch.
Rad Barn: To see more pictures check out the Instagram.
Seen at an opening in NY tonight at the Chelsea 27 artspace 617 West 27th
More diptychs from our Facing Chemo reunion. I think this might be a separate exhibit soon.
We had a moving, inspiring and wonderful picnic Saturday at the ranch for all the people we photographed for Facing Chemo. Amongst the food, and games and a great home-made chicken piñata, I managed to re-photograph everyone.
Here’s the first diptych of the first person I photographed for this project.
I got an email from an art student last week that started with, ‘Your work inspires me.’ Always nice to hear, but it got me thinking – what inspires me?
It’s not the places I get to see or the objects in my life, it’s the people. The real people I get to meet and photograph every day. Listening to their stories, and getting to re-tell these stories visually. And, every once in a while I meet someone who really moves me, shifts my focus. This guy was one of those people.
We were sent to southern Louisiana to meet and photograph a young father of two. Nick has a genetic disorder called Morquio Syndrome. We were photographing him for BioMarin, a pharmaceutical company that’s developed a treatment for Morquio and other rare genetic diseases. Like many of the diseases in BioMarin’s focus, Morquio is extremely rare, which is what brought us to this very small town.
With a rolling Cajun twang, Nick told me how he’d grown up in rural Louisiana, fending for himself without ever taking a dime of public assistance. His wife, with whom he has two wonderful kids, grew up in the same town in which they now live. With his daughter at his side, he told me how she’d been playing volleyball in middle school but hadn’t had a great coaching experience. So, without ever having played volleyball, and himself being in a wheelchair, he and his wife began to coach the team. There he was, in their backyard, serving volleyballs for her to bump and set back to him. Never doubting or complaining, he simply saw a problem and dealt with it the best way he knew how – by doing it himself.
Nick works full time at an automotive business, and, when I photographed him with his own car, he showed me the pedal extensions he uses in order to reach the brake and the gas pedals. They weren’t some stock pedal extensions, ordered from a medical catalog, nor did he ask an insurance carrier to buy modifiers so that he could drive his car. Instead, he went to the back of the machine shop, measured what he needed, and got it done.
Climbing up onto the dog house, wielding a hammer, he showed me the dog pens that he cleans out by himself, and I met his favorite dog – the one he walks down the modest street where his lives. While Nick is able to walk, he uses a chair to get around most of the time. Morquio causes a great deal of pain in the joints while standing, even for short periods of time. So, Nick’s dog walks, involve him holding the leash, while he pushes himself down the street in his chair, backwards, so that Nick can push with his feet. His dog follows with the same simple tenderness toward him that I saw come from his kids.
Clearly meeting someone like this makes me think, makes me want to hug my kids, makes me want to say thank you for the life I have, all the things I can do. But even more than all of that, this encounter makes me want to tell Nick’s story, beyond just a snapshot in time of an inspiring person. I’ve decided to travel back to Louisiana every year to continue photographing Nick, in essence, turning a one-time assignment into a long-term study. His story is not only one that I want to keep telling, but one that I want to continue experiencing.