Our big event is this Saturday. Remember? You’re coming, right?
The longer we work on this project, the more we figure out how to do it better. A couple of years ago, we realized that we needed to have meetings with our models well before we even schedule a photo session. It’s our way to make 100% sure that everyone involved wins, and no one loses. In those meetings, we talk about each person’s story–her diagnosis, her victories, her fears, her experience. We get an idea of what is motivating our model–the reasons for working with the project are as individual as the people who bring them. We brainstorm a conceptual plan.
And then we ask questions: “What is your goal for the photo session? What do you want to feel like when you’ve taken these photos?”
When we met Heather, she shared the story of a rather difficult diagnosis. The truth about survivors, you see, is that sometimes survival doesn’t mean freedom from this disease. Sometimes, you survive with the cancer, for the rest of your life. We talked for a long time about what that meant, and when we asked Heather how she wanted to feel after her photos, she said, “Honest.”
The day of the shoot, we showed up with paintbrushes and a roll of seamless paper, and Heather doodled the things that she carries with her as she navigates the Big Questions about life with cancer. It wasn’t always an easy list to read, but it was real and it was honest. And I guarantee that somewhere out there, someone will see it and feel a little bit less alone.
That’s why I love this project so very, very deeply. The courage of these women gets shared, and multiplied, and somehow turns into a community of support that amazes and humbles me. Surviving past–or with–cancer is heavy stuff. It’s honest, messy business and there’s not a road map or a flow chart that tells you what to do. But somehow, people come forward to remind us all that in the middle of the trickiest stuff, no one is alone. I’m so grateful to be a part of that message.
Stop by on Saturday. You’ll see what we mean.