25 October 2014

My Love My Life 10/12 - Conquer Fear

© Ian Pettigrew

College have been speaking about the importance of personal projects recently.  Personal projects can turn out to be your best and most fulfilling work, because for whatever reason, you have specifically chosen to do it.  I recently stumbled upon a Canadian photographer, later found out he's half Scottish!  Well, he is currently working his way through a personal project called Just Breathe, where he's photographing adults who are living with Cystic Fibrosis (CF).  

Media coverage surrounding CF is sparse.  Since the birth of social media, I'm connected to a lot of people who have CF.  There's always somebody who knows a person who has died recently.  It can get really upsetting reading things like that.  It's not high profile like Cancer, but it's equally devastating.  It will kill you; it just drags the process out a bit.  Adults living with CF can often feel like it's a battle to stay alive, that's why they are often referred to as Warriors within the CF community.  Treatment regimes are physically and mentally demanding for patients.  Like many other long term chronic conditions, it may not be widely understood that family members can also endure years of emotional trauma as a direct result of caring for and/or living with the sick person.  
After being diagnosed later in life himself, Ian wanted to spread the message that this is no longer a children's disease and the best way to do that as a Photographer, is by taking pictures.  Lots of pictures! 

Ian started his career in advertising and got the photography bug by working alongside photographers for many years.  He used to think photographers had a glamorous life.  He admits he was wrong.  Just like I used to think the ladies behind the make-up counters in department stores were glamorous, before I did my school work experience.  Someone once asked him why he would want to be in a job that made him poor, but money isn't everything.  

As well as Ian's standard portrait head shots for his Just Breathe Project,  I found another one called Salty Girls - The Women of Cystic Fibrosis  Here he photographs CF women.  But, what does the name mean?  Well, the salt in CF patients bodies travel differently through the tissues to that of non-CF people.  Patients secrete higher volumes of salt through their sweat.  There was an old saying around the 1700s which went like this, "woe is the child who tastes salty from a kiss on the brow, for he is cursed and soon must die".  They used to believe CF children were bewitched. In this project Ian captures how CF can ravage your physical appearance.  I'm well aware of how the effects of CF have changed my appearance and body image.  I've always been a little self conscious.  It's healthier for me to weigh more, but society wants you to be thin.  I think it's very brave of the ladies to expose themselves like this.  It takes real courage, which I'm sure they have truck loads of.  

Ian wants his images made into a photobook.  If he can get enough financial support or even better a sponsor, he could make this a reality sooner.  If you are in a position to be a sponsor of this book, great.  If not, well you could always join the organ donor register in your county instead.  I'll leave you with some of Ian's images and one of me, which is my contribution to Salty Girls - The Women of Cystic Fibrosis.  Photo credit to the lovely Nicola Grimshaw and her team at My Boudoir - Make-Over Boudoir Photography.
© Ian Pettigrew

© Ian Pettigrew

                                                           © Nicola Grimshaw

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