Thursday, July 31, 2008

Putting Pictures into Words

It is quite frustrating that I already wrote this entry and then it disappeared. Sometimes I really dislike blogger. Word to the wise. I am in the habit of highlighting all of the text that I would like spell-checked. However, if you do that in blogger, it will erase every word you have written. Forever. It drives me crazy. Beware of the evil spell checker.

Now, on with the story.

So, what I really was going to talk about was some of the work that I am doing for an upcoming art exhibition entitled "Life. Through the eyes of a child living with neuroblastoma." The show will last 3 months. Opening night is September 5, 2008 at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center. The exhibition will feature photography of neuroblastoma patients that were taken by Geno Loro ( I can tell you that the photography is compelling and nothing short of incredible.

This whole journey began earlier this year. We were looking for a photographer to take some pictures of children with neuroblastoma. The original purpose of the photography was going to be for some CNCF marketing materials and for an upcoming neuroblastoma awareness campaign. We originally contacted Geno out of the blue but, through a strange twist of events, it turns out he had a very personal connection with the neuroblastoma world. It was believed at one time that his son had neuroblastoma. Thankfully it turned out to be a false diagnosis but the memory and the fear of what that meant never left Geno's mind. Much to our surprise he offered to donate his time to photograph these kiddos.

Taking the pictures was no easy task. This was not as simple as just snapping a few pictures. We were looking for much more. One of my greatest personal frustrations with photography of children with cancer was that it was scary. I have found that it was not only my feeling but that many turn their head when they see a child with cancer. This is true in magazines as much as it is walking through the grocery store. No one wants to believe that it could happen to their child, their grandchild, or one of their friends. Surely, there must have been something wrong with "those" kids. Somehow "they" are different. The problem with this sentiment is that the message never gets sent. People are to busy turning the page to ever get to the message. The easiest way to escape this imagery is to forget about it altogether. It is difficult to see a picture of anyone in true crisis, especially a child. It is my opinion that this has been one of the reasons we have so much difficulty garnering support for childhood cancer.

The challenge came in obtaining photography that was far less about cancer and far more about children. The photographs had to do, at a minimum, two things. First, you must have that feeling that the child in the picture could be your child. We wanted each picture to be a personal experience. It could not scare. It had to give that feeling that the child in the picture could be any child walking down the street. Secondly, the picture had to be compelling enough that you wanted to read the words. You wanted to receive the message. This is the difficult part. Capturing that look, that expression, where you want to read more.

Geno did that in ways that go beyond description. The photography is beyond compelling. I can tell you from those few that have actually seen the pictures that they are likely the best that have ever been seen. The have met all of our objectives and more. He has captured the true victims of neuroblastoma - average, normal, and otherwise happy children and families.

The problem now is that I have to describe them. I have to talk about their purpose. While I would much rather let the photography speak for its own (which I will) I have to communicate in the marketing and press materials what this is all really about.

It is no easy task. I know I can't do the photography justice.

I am hoping my pencil has purpose today. I have a deadline.

1 comment:

Tammy Loro said...

I read your blog I'm moved to tears.
God bless you for all you do and share. Your writing is incredible! I feel like member of your family and look forward to the daily happenings in the Dungan world!

Tammy Loro