Friday, November 3, 2017

For all who may wonder

My dad, who I followed in my photo essay, has in fact passed(September 28th, 2017). No one told me he had stage 4. The chemo wasn't working as well as they thought, and his cancer got very aggressive. This is not to say that all stories end this way, but I hope to anyone who may read this, that they value the importance of early warnings, as we had many and ignored them all. Get checks for cancer every now and then. The earlier you catch it, the more likely you are to survive. We were too late, but it doesn't have to end that way.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Photogs Choice pt. 1

Messing with my face
The original

Took away my mouth

Some fun with stretching

And then whatever this might be

 Funny how the face seems to change when our perspective of it changes

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

An Unexpected Journey - photo essay

The Lead

This is the bed my dad has been chained to for several months now. In early April, we learned he had lung cancer. We had known something was wrong for a while, but his doctor had been insisting that the mass in his X-rays were just infection.  It was a shock to us when a second doctor sat us down and told us the first doctor was delusional. She said she had already scheduled him for radiation as there was no time to lose. So in this bed, all three of us cried in fear of what was to come.

I thought we would have more information, but we didn't. It took weeks after they had determined it was cancer to even know what kind of cancer. We were never given a "stage", a word that I heard often when dealing with this. The whole thing was just so rushed because the initial doctor had wasted so much time.

The Scene

This is the oncology waiting room where I sat as my dad received his radiation treatments. It was a rather somber room with puzzles that changed every few days. I was pushing my dad around in a wheelchair because the cancer had spread to his hip and rips and it was hard for him to walk. The other people in this room joked about their situations and it made everything seem a little better.

One morning there was a fire drill with no warning. Apparently, hospitals are required to have fire drills frequently, but they are supposed to warn you ahead of time so you don't freak out, but the warning before the alarm was covered up by one of those "would the owner of a blue Honda please move their car" messages. So naturally, I freaked out because they had just taken my dad back to the radiation rooms. Unlike school, however, they lock you in the building when there is a fire, and the nurse grabbed me and put me back in the waiting room. My dad told me when he came back that the alarm hadn't even gone off in the radiation room, so he had no idea.


My dad had an MRI shortly after they diagnosed him. It showed that he had a tiny lesion on his brain. Because it was small and there was only one, they used a very pinpoint treatment to zap it. They had to attach a thing to his head and he had to wear bandaids for a few days. He was pretty out of it at the time and finally allowed me to take a picture of him.


After the radiation ended, he started being able to move a little better. He came downstairs to watch tv instead of in his room just so he could get out of that bed. We moved our comfiest office chair down for him to sit in. He eventually began to be able to make himself sandwiches.

Since my mom and I couldn't constantly be there, and some days were worse than others, we had to leave him coolers full of water bottles and baskets of snacks. I think he got pretty tired of these and started keeping water in more interesting cups. Though, he always puts them on the table situated slightly behind his reach from the bed.


He's been prescribed a lot of pills, something I wasn't really expecting. One is a steroid and another an opioid to help with the pain. He keeps them nicely lined up at the table in front of his sitting chair downstairs, along with the tv remote, of course.

As the pain started to fade, he went back to playing Pokemon on his 3DS. He can only play it for short bursts because his neck gets pretty stiff, but it's nice to see him doing the things he enjoys again.


Throughout the whole ordeal, he has continued to work. We're lucky that he has a job that he can effectively do from home, and a very understanding boss. He sits with his laptop looking at spreadsheets and joining online meetings all day.

The Clincher

And then finally, we got good news. The day before his birthday, we learned that his cancer was going to be very receptive to chemotherapy, and he wouldn't have to take the super aggressive injection type that made your hair fall out. He only had to take it in a pill form a couple times a day and he was given 6 weeks before he would be able to take the bus to work again. The next day was the party. We had already planned to have everyone over on his birthday, but this news turned it from a somewhat morbid affair to an actual celebration.

There was a sign in the oncology wing by the dressing rooms that I always stared at as I waited for him to change in or out of his hospital gown. I wish I had taken a picture of it, but I suppose I was usually pretty out of it in that place. It read "Never Lose Hope" and it had pink butterflies and some curly lines. I thought it was ridiculous, that they would put such a cheesy sign in such a somber place. As time passed, I began to understand what it stood for. That nagging feeling in the back of your mind that everything is going to end horribly gets stronger and stronger with each day. Sometimes it's hard to even think because it drags you down so much, and you find yourself blankly staring at walls. But you have to push through, because just the same as things can always go wrong, things can also go right. You have to be strong not only for yourself but the person whose life is on the line. They're just as scared, probably more so, and you can't let them see you lose hope, because then they will too. And it's times like these when hope is really all you have.

Artist Statement
Why did I chose this as my project? For the most part, because it was all I really had time to do as it became such a huge part of my life so suddenly. But I also wanted to give people some insight into the life of your everyday cancer patient. Movies seem to make it look like every patient is hospitalized and doomed, so that was my understanding going in, and that was horrible. Though my dad has struggled and continues to struggle with this disease, it's not his fate to be taken down by it. I didn't start this project to be hopeful necessarily, as I wasn't entirely sure how this whole situation would end, but I believe maybe that it could be a nice perk up for anyone in a similar situation to mine. It doesn't always end like Hollywood wants us to think it does.
I wish I could have gotten more pictures of the oncology department but I would have felt very uncomfortable bringing my camera with me there and taking pictures in such a somber place. The one picture I did get was with my phone and only after the waiting room had been emptied. It was tough getting myself to take any pictures when this all started because I really didn't know how this was gonna turn out. I'm glad I did though, this entire ordeal kind of opened up my eyes a little more to the value of my own life and taking risks(socially, not dangerously). You always hear people saying stuff like, "YOLO" and, "don't be afraid to live" and such, but it's really not until you have something like this in your own life that you start to see the real meaning in that. Hopefully I gave enough insight into my own experience that you won't wait for something like this to happen to you before you begin to see those things.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Golden Hour

I had to work so the only golden hour photos I could take were of Cabela's across the street from Red Robin(where I work) 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Dark Room Prints

Dark Room Prints

The first roll

I did 2 prints of the trash can because the first one I did was underexposed in terms of the enlarger. The second was better. The third was overexposed in my camera so It didn't turn out great, and most of most other negatives were worthless as they were underexposed

Faces roll #2

All of these photos were also underexposed, I tried lowering my shutter speed and got some faint shapes, but mostly my negatives were white space, or what would have turned out to be black space on the print. The only workable shot I had was this one of Claire making a derp face.

My camera manual said it had an auto detect for the ISO of the film, so maybe that isn't entirely true or that function has since broken because for some of my shots I had the shutter speed at the lowest speed, or longest exposure time it could do.