Twelve years ago, when I lost my mother to cancer, beyond the initial anger and grief I knew I wanted to do something positive and practical as a tribute to her courage and to the courage and commitment of everyone who had supported her at that difficult time.
Doing what I know best, I decided to shoot some portraits of people I had met, some who were living with and battling cancer. In these portraits I wanted to capture the raw emotions associated with diagnosis that I knew, from experience, were so very difficult to articulate in words: the anger, the depression, the isolation, the fear, the reaching out for understanding, to name but a few. While doing so, I also hoped to raise a little money for various cancer charities. What started out as a modest idea has grown exponentially and taken on a life of its own, principally as a result of the extraordinary people I have met and photographed along the way. This project has taken me on a journey I could never have anticipated and, twelve years later, has culminated in a number of portraits. The images document moments in the lives of people and capture their emotions, and in doing so articulate a universal predicament and experience. I cannot sufficiently thank everyone who sat for me and trusted meI hope these portraits justify their trust. Any diagnosis of cancer will always signal an emotional, as well as a medical, battle. As normal life ruptures, a tsunami of emotions threatens to overwhelm not only the person receiving the diagnosis, but also their spouses, their children, their parents, their siblings and their friends. Responses are often surprising, confusing, and contradictory. Some are fleeting, others deep seated and others still capricious, returning to take you by surprise when you hoped you had left them far behind.
Many of these emotions, impossible to fully articulate in words, are only truly signified through a look or expression. When it comes to conveying their depth and complexity, often a picture genuinely does say more than a thousand words ever could. I hope some of these images talk to you.
All the proceeds from the exhibitions will go to support the work of five designated cancer charities, along with that of the Midland Air Ambulance Service.
Phil Evans Photography