|When the patients say no, a portrait of the doc is still valuable|
They're not just my favorite just because they love what I do. They're not even my favorite because any gig for them means a flight, a passport stamp and usually a headlong interactive experience with a culture I had not yet encountered.
|Counseling a man who has not told his family his HIV st|
It is also because what they do is important.
By working with them I have the great opportunity to show the world that important work. In a way to be a part of what they do, even if I don' see myself as the one doing the heavy lifting.
That said, these projects are hard work.
When there are hurdles in a shoot, you still shoot.
|Testing blood for HIV|
When frustrated, you take a deep breath and then try something else.
In a case like this, you respect people's wishes and find another way to make telling images.
Work it and then work it again.
This was the nature of a part of my work in Guyana recently where the larger lesson taught me that the stigma for having HIV/AIDS is still significant.
With this stigma comes the unwillingness to be photographed. We would ask permission from the patient, who would say no. All we could do was wait and ask the next patient, after a while, asking permission even to photograph over their shoulder, no face, to see the healthcare professional in action rarely saw success. Sometimes they agreed, more often, they did not.
|Hospice. A vigilant son and his mom.|
Unfortunately these folks have very real concerns.
As I photographed a group-counseling session, (only the side of the room where people had consented), a woman discussed with the group her challenges, being avoided by people she cared about, a family member not accepting extra vegetables she had purchased at market.
It is not unusual for people to be shunned, for employers to make up excuses to fire the HIV-positive person. Another group member confronted that challenge.
|A consenting patient checks in with a program nurse.|
As I kept trying to produce images of these programs that my client would find valuable, the government and the aid organizations keep trying to eradicate the stigma.
Results come from picking yourself up and trying again.
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