Monday, March 25, 2013

A Surgery Documentary

 Chuck and I continue to document our respective families but chose not to continue FPJ a while back. However, sometimes personal work needs an audience, or perhaps the photographer needs one. Sometimes sharing one's images conveys to others what one cannot express in words.

 One of the most difficult experiences of my life has been the recent surgery of my 4-year-old son Isaac. We took him in for a scheduled MRI and life quickly went from "What will we have for dinner after the MRI?" to "When is his surgery scheduled for?" They found a large tumor in his cerebellum and three days later, they removed it in the course of a 9-hour surgery. Some blood, many machines and wires, blood pressure cuffs, medications and myriad hospital staff became our reality. This monotony was often, and thankfully, disturbed by friends and family. All of these elements, those that brought pain and those which provided relief were equally a part of the story and deserved their portion in the documentary.

 This set of images has some rather rapid transitions and a number of lulls. Both of these represent our experience. Much time spent waiting, sitting, watching cartoons, distracting, and consoling, while many and frequent changes found us at other times in very brief spans. In a moment, we shifted from innocence to knowledge, from a healthy son to one on the verge of catastrophe. And life began to be lived one moment after another. Life often presents rapid change, rapid transitions. As such, I intentionally avoided any attempts to smooth out this set, to fine tune it and hope that it speaks for itself outside of my background information.

 Lastly, it has been my observation that emotions are often absent in photography, save the smiles and laughs, which, while valuable, belie an existence none of us can know exclusively. Sadness and pain are real. If we choose to omit those in our documentary, we do a disservice to our remembrance and create an artificial life, bereft of the things that made us value one another more deeply. I found no reason to leave my camera at home. This is our life, after all. For good or bad, I wanted to remember it. What follows are the moments from first entering the imaging area and donning the hospital pajamas to our eventual homecoming and the beginning of a new chapter of recovery. What follows is my view of those events.


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  1. loved your last paragraph about documenting the pain and sadness because they are real. AND also loved seeing photos of my old stomping grounds. i was an RN in the vandy picu for three years almost four years ago. hooray your son is home! blessings on your recovery.

  2. So many emotions. Amazing images Daniel. So so good.

  3. Amazing work Daniel, I can't imagine how tough this was for you and your family.

  4. I'm sorry this happened and am touched by your images.

  5. As always Daniel, full of emotion. I wish your family all the very best and a speedy recovery.

  6. So terribly beautiful, tender, and fragile.

  7. So happy to see you back...although this wasn't what I had in mind :) Very emotional and frightening. I hope your little guy is well and truly on the mend. It was the images of your wife that particularly made my heart constrict.


  8. Amazing, really. Thank you for sharing. Was the tumor benign? I hope he is feeling 100% soon.

    Before I knew you or Evan I knew this blog and I showed my then fiancee. I told her, "This is why I need to carry the camera around even though it gets on your nerves." I still send people here regularly and I hope it stays online forever.

  9. Thank, guys. I appreciate your thoughts and value your feedback. It's an honor to be part of something that people find useful.

  10. Have been a big fan of yours, Daniel, since several years back on FM. Love your work. Can't imagine what you, your wife, your family were going through, but very glad to hear it sounds like your son is doing well.

  11. Thank you for sharing. I hope you all get to put this episode as far behind you as possible as soon as possible without losing sight of the fact that life is fleeting.

  12. As a photographer, this is amazing work. Full of emotion, energy and tender As a father, this is amazing work. Full of emotion, energy and tender, I hoe your son is feeling well and on the road to recovery.

  13. Be strong Daniel, hope your son does well in his recovery.

  14. This is an absolutely amazing set. Amazing.

  15. Daniel I am not going to comment your pics.As a father I wish to all of you good recovery and with the help of God to be healthy all of you.Your son is a fighter I can see it in his of luck.

  16. An incredible set of exceptional photos, charged with emotion and feeling. I'm the father of a 3 y/o boy and to see those 'normal' everyday expressions/poses of your son translated from the home to such a context is heartwrenching. I wish him a very speedy recovery.