It can only be what it is...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Photography and life's impermanence

Where I work ( a Veteran's Hospital in Canada) I have recently been given the opportunity to retake all of the residents' photos.
In and of itself, I enjoy doing this kind of work. I had studied photography in college, and it's still a hobby of mine.
What I am finding however is quite different from what I expected. We have a couple hundred men and some women( Nurses from WWII and Korea) that are suffering from Alzheimer's and other types of dementia. They often are combative with the nurses and orderlies,and over and over again the staff bemoans how some residents will just not pose for a photo or be cooperative.
The administration wanted me to have a backdrop and have the camera mounted on a tripod , schedule appointments and it just seemed overly stuffy and not inviting.
I booked a room for a couple of hours, and simply sat on a chair in the room where I was taking the pictures and just spoke to them, with respect and compassion and took some of the best pictures I could. A few just wandered in on their own, some came willingly with family members and some were downright difficult.
Some of the toughest customers I had , have managed to be the best pictures yet once the ice was broken.
I would like to make these photos available to the families as they have managed to capture a glimmer of what once was.
A shadow perhaps of their former self, the confidence, seems to show up even if for just a fleeting moment.
Life's impermanence certainly seems all to vivid to me today.

1 comment: