September 10, 2015, Five Days Prior to Surgery
Our first day of shooting took place in the studio. Beth was at once playful, in control, and open to my direction, despite it not making sense to her at the time. I work intuitively, trying not to think too much about things while shooting. Beth never hesitated to collaborate and to bring her own ideas to the images. One pose that struck me was the palms-up position she took during some of the portraits. This is the Buddhist gesture of being open to receive energy, and I see it as symbolic of how Beth was putting herself out there. She would be facing the world with her reality, the way she is, with the heart and the guts to do this.
“One of the hardest aspects of my breast cancer diagnosis was how to tell people. How to walk around without feeling like I was harboring a secret. A close family friend had to break the news to my father and brother. My sister had to tell my mother. My best friend had to tell my other friends. I finally decided to be very public on Facebook, and another friend helped me set up a page to answer questions and keep family and friends posted on my progress along the way.
"I begged for prayers on Facebook and coolly told everyone I was OK. Crying only took hold of me a few times. My mind was not allowing me to feel fear. It was the people close to me who seemed to be really distraught—especially my male friends. They all got very emotional and expressed a deep concern for my well-being or—jokingly, perhaps—for my breasts.
"I remember the first photo shoot very clearly. I had no idea what I was doing. I wasn’t used to having my photo taken and my emotions were still in shock. Why was I having this photo taken?
"I wanted to show my daughter my real face in the face of adversity—my conviction to tackle this with strength and grace."
Click below the text on the right to view images from the first shoot.