|PANOPTIC by Betsie Van Der Meer (Retouching by Matt Wreford)|
I came across Betsie's wonderful work on the internet in August 2011 and just had to write to her about my project. She replied immediately saying that she was interested. Unusually (because normally I only communicate with photographers by email for some reason), there followed a sequence of missed telephone calls until we finally spoke and chatted generally about the project. She asked to see the other photographs (which not everyone likes to see beforehand) and so I sent her the link to my Flickr page as well as my Blog and the feature on The Culture Show. She felt it was helpful to see what other people had done.
We met finally for the shoot on 25th March 2012 at her lovely little house in Brixton and she explained to me that she wanted to capture the sensation of the tremor in the photograph by asking me to shake and move whilst she took the photographs on a long exposure. She has already been out the night before to photograph the lights of the traffic in London and her intention was superimpose me on to the picture of those lights so that there would be this basic element of constant movement. Although it has never been my aim to document my disease in the project, I do not mind at all if a photographer chooses to involve any examination of my condition and so I had no objection to what Betsie wanted to do. On the contrary, I was very excited by how they might turn out and very moved as well; it always touches me when a busy photographer gives up time to plan a photograph of me to such a degree.
It was an extremely relaxed shoot and Betsie turned out to be a very convivial companion for a few hours. Then the moment of truth when the photos arrived - Betsie sent two and they were both marvellous but especially the one above in which she thought that I looked a bit like an alien but she liked that nonetheless. I thought they were both utterly spellbinding and so full of energy, dynamism and bravura and I told her so. I was so excited by the results that it took me a week to respond with my thanks - no, seriously, I was away dealing with the Southport show and, although I had had a quick look at them, I wanted to have time when I wrote to Betsie to say precisely how I felt about what she had done.
She is a great photographer and I feel supremely honoured to have been photographed by her.