I live with cancer. My life was turned upside down with that diagnosis five months ago. I struggled to get to grips with a life possibly curtailed to 12 months or so. Actually, I can't get to grips with that idea at all. It sits in my mind as a dark point in time, not that far ahead.
I am, or was, a reasonably successful photographer shooting mostly weddings - 30 a year or so. I made a painless transition to working with a brace of XPro2s, and a bevy of primes. I closed the business. I began the endurance test that is chemotherapy every three weeks - feeling crap, feeling ok, feeling good, then doing it all again. During the feeling good week, I am able to focus on my well-being a little more - enjoying my food, having more energy to see friends, and getting out with my camera, my beloved X100F. I live
to see my two daughters growing into capable young women. To see my grandchildren one day. To see everything with more clarity, understanding and meaning and distil all of that into a photograph. My state of mind affects my image making profoundly, some days are better than others. Street photography isn't easy, and for a long time I avoided including people, not having the nerve, thinking it was too confrontational. I was simply looking for light, shapes, and textures. That's changing. The near invisibility of the X100F makes any shot possible. It all comes down to my own vision and reflexes.
Photographing on the street makes me happy. It's a brilliant distraction from the legal, financial and medical paperwork that needs my attention. It fulfils me creatively. The more I look the more I see. I'm getting bolder at including people in my images, and I complicate things further by seeking colour combinations and juxtapositions that I hope will lift the images to another level. To see
another day is now a gift I seize with both hands and which I no longer take for granted. Cancer is an insidious disease, creeping malignantly and silently along its deadly course, robbing my life to feed its own. I have had four months of chemotherapy, along with the expected side effects (hair loss and fatigue) and some unexpected (a twice-torn retina and numb finger tips). I am very fortunate to now know that the treatment is working, and the tumours are shrinking. I have a temporary reprieve, and can relax a little. I have time to rebuild my body, and build on this body of work.
Yes, cancer has changed me. I'm more focussed. I try to cut through life's clutter more decisively. I make sure I have things planned and things to look forward to. I spend time with my family and friends, without whom I would have crumbled psychologically weeks ago. I have a joint exhibition next year to focus on, a couple of self-published books to plan, and a lot more images to create. I feel positive and excited and more conscious. Street photography is both rewarding and frustrating. That's its appeal - I never know what's round the corner. And if I don't get the shot this time, there's nearly always another day.