Sunday, 13 February 2011

YOU ARE NOT THE MAN YOU WERE BEFORE by Daisy Lang

YOU ARE NOT THE MAN YOU WERE BEFORE
by Daisy Lang
On 2nd March 2008, I answered an advertisement in our local paper from Daisy who was looking to photograph people with illnesses.

Daisy explained that she was in her final year of a BA Hons in Photography at the West Surrey College of Art and Design in Farnham. She had recently completed a dissertation on concepts of health and normalisation and now she was embarking on her final practical project which was intended as a sort of sister piece to the dissertation in that it would be examining the same concepts but in a visual way.

She was interested in the representation of people who were ill and thus not necessarily considered "appropriate" subject matter for photographs outside the realms of science and medicine. She also wanted to to hear people's personal experiences of illness and medicine and, in the process, challenge society's attitudes towards the ill and force the viewer to think about health and sickness in new, more open-minded ways.

We met at her studio in the college and she took photographs with digital and 35mm cameras and finally with a medium format film camera. Throughout the shoot, she recorded an interview with me about the effects of the illness and the medication.

DAISY
I found the whole experience very therapeutic because I was having to express quite deep, personal feelings about my illness to someone whom I did not know very well. However, Daisy made me feel very relaxed and gradually it became easier to open up.

The title of the photograph comes from some advice given to me by a speech therapist whom I consulted before I started taking the drug, Levadopa. One day, she asked me how I had been since we had last met. I explained that I was having problems socially in that I was embarrassed by my illness and its symptoms, especially the tremor. She replied quite firmly, "You are not the Tim you used to be, you are Tim with Parkinson's and the sooner you accept that, the better". It changed my whole attitude from that moment and since then, I have never looked back.

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