The image above is one that I took when I started using photograhy to explore the journey I was on with William. It was one of the first I took after purchasing my first D-SLR camera. Technically, it could be better. It is a bit dark around the edges for example and I have come on a long way in my photography, especially in areas such as lighting, since then.
I still find this a powerful image, it is one of my favourite of this kind that I took to record William's experiences before his transplant. It shows him bound by drips when his intravenous access was becoming a challenge and his need for intravenous fluids and drugs very high. It was taken just a few weeks before he got his call for transplant.
Last week, I included this image in a digital round of internal competition at my camera club. I enter these competitions to hear a critique of my work to develop myself as a photographer and, thus, like to include a wide variety of genre. The judge did not like this picture one bit and not because of the technical limitations, in fact, he didn't even go as far as to comment on that. To him, the subject was totally inappropriate and he went as far as to say that why on earth would anyone put this image out into the public unless to shock!
Maybe I have become to used to seeing scenes like this but I didn't mean to shock. 'Gifts of Life' aims to stir emotions but I don't think shock is one of them, certainly not in the way this particular gentleman seemed to be. Of course, he did not have the context and I can understand it may jar a bit to have this image appear suddenly among the wildlife and landscapes. Others in the club know a bit about me now along with the photos I take and why. Some of these peopl told me in the coffee break that they liked the image and found it powerful and thought it deserved more than the dismissal it received. The wondered if I was OK at the reaction it got and worried I may have been hurt. I wasn't hurt. I was fascinated. The judge reacted strongly. To me, that is better than a luke warm response. He and others had their emotions stirred and that is what I aim to do in this project. I mentioned this briefly on my status report on Facebook. Since then, I have also spoken to others who have seen this image and find it to be powerful and moving. I am glad I entered it into the compeition. The responses I had that night and the conversations I have had as a result have shown me how powerful this project could be and have encouraged and driven me on rather than upset me.
I plan to invite this judge to the 'Gifts of Life' exhibition opening. I would love the opportunity to hear his thoughts when all the images are together in the context of the message and the stories they portray.