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I Did a Chronic Illness Photo Shoot and It Was Awesome

We see them all the time. People doing photo shoots for their engagement, their new baby, graduation, puppies. Well, my friend is in a photography class and we did a chronic illness photo shoot. It was awesome. Here’s why more people should do them.

First, it’s like the old cliché: a picture is worth a thousand words. You may not ever be able to accurately describe to someone what it is like to live your life with chronic pain or chronic illness, and while pictures really only capture what is visible, it still captures the facial expressions to portray your discomfort and it is a great way to capture your physical hardships.

Second, it’s a great way to show your illness to the photographer (your friend, a family member, etc.). It gives them the chance to see the parts of your day that no one but you ever knows about. For me, we did it about getting up in the morning. A process that any spoonie will tell you takes time. We captured the different phases of sleep, alarm, prepping to actually get up, and a bit of the morning process — particularly taping up my joints in the morning. This is something that no one would ever know I did unless I told you about it because it is hidden under my clothing.

Third, it’s a good way to document your illness. Whether it’s for use at a doctor’s appointment, to tell a story, or just as a pastime, pictures are a great way to document the progress of your illness.

Last, but certainly not least, it is a lot of fun! You get to make the everyday activities, that are ordinarily difficult and unpleasant, a bit more interesting (and not in that semi-sarcastic ‘oh, I didn’t know my knee could pop like that’ kind of way!). In my shoot, the photographer was a friend and my brother and his girlfriend were there, too. It made it a lot of fun because we could laugh and use the more interesting aspects of my illness to entertain us, which is always a nice

woman lying in bed
woman waking up
woman preparing to get out of bed
Prepping for actually getting out of bed
woman getting out of bed
Moving to my steps to get out of my high dorm bed safely
woman wrapping joints in tape
Me prepping my taping to keep my joints steady
woman standing up from bed holding onto hand
I am finally getting out of bed, taped up, and holding my brother, Luciano’s, hand for support to keep me steady as I step down from my bed.

I would encourage anyone living with chronic illness to consider a “chronic illness photo shoot” as a way to help them express their struggles. Illness isn’t particularly glamorous and a photo shoot can capture the process of going from chronically ill to invisibly so. This has been the second class project that I have assisted friends with by being their model/subject and I love it every time. It gives me yet another way to spread the word of those who live their lives hiding a part of themselves.

10/10 would recommend.

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