Out the Window

Our normal work and home routines went out the window on October 28. Most of our plans went right along with it. Yay changes! I shot my last convention for the year a week ago. It was a marathon 18 hour day with a great group of women grocery all stars. As exhausting a day as it was, I needed it. Photographing is my escape, except when I am the subject. More on that a little later.

My brain welcomed the break from doctor appointments and sharing the news. My wife is a real estate broker and this time of the year often is slower because of the holidays. Before we found out about my breast cancer we decided to take some time off after a really busy year. This is not exactly how we imagined spending our down time. Forced down time is not always a bad thing? Right?

In many ways, not having a full work schedule is a blessing right now. However, this is not exactly what we had in mind for our off time. The clock is ticking on when my surgery will happen, no date yet but after a MRI on Wednesday I should know more. I am focusing on taking care of me and basically doing whatever I want. You know, playing the “C” card. One of the only upsides to this whole mess.

Lately many are asking how Dawn and I are doing. It is a loaded question. The answer I usually give is that it depends on the minute and my first reaction is to laugh a little. The truth is neither of us are sure how we are doing.

Last Friday I decided to get a haircut. Actually a trim. I am still growing out my pixie cut from the summer and it needed some help. I also needed to look good for pictures. Dawn and I asked a friend to take some of the two of us before surgery. Not counting selfies, our wedding three years ago was the last time we had our photo taken together.

I am a typical photographer and more comfortable not having my picture taken. Work in progress. Dawn knows I need some cheer leading and have to prepare mentally so she asked if I wanted her to take some photos of me after the haircut. I thought “why the hell not” and said yes.

We set up the equipment on our patio because neither of us wanted to move all the furniture in our living room like we usually do. A change of scenery was needed. How was it you ask? It was great while I was taking Dawn’s pictures in the beginning. As soon as I got in front of the camera my brain broke. The usual funk hit me and then some.

I was trying to smile but was uncomfortable and hyper focused on every physical flaw that I know pictures magnify. After a few photos I was on the verge of a meltdown which resulted in her and I having what we call “a thing”.  I was pissed off and Dawn was sad. Even our “things” are out of their normal routine as it is usually the other way around for us. We mentally circled the drain and both felt the weight of all the upcoming changes to our life and my body.

Don’t worry. We talked it out. I insisted we continue and called a restart. She was not convinced but I changed my clothes and we rallied. Yay Waters Chicks! Later that night we downloaded all of the photos, edited a few of our favorites, and went to bed. The next morning we saw that we managed to create the perfect collection of what life feels like after a cancer diagnosis.

There was no plan or purpose for the photo session. No expectations or big message behind it. For over an hour we just took pictures of every moment. The silly, the sad, the beautiful, and everything in between. We stayed in the present moment and went with it which was no small accomplishment. In that hour we accidentally created the perfect representation of the emotional roller coaster we have been feeling. The collage speaks for itself and the best answer to the frequently asked question about how we are doing.


I plan to keep photographing throughout this experience and continuing to create art. Like life, sometimes something will come from it and sometimes nothing will. No matter which side of the lens I’m on, it is therapeutic for me. Thanksgiving is this week and I am grateful for all of the friends and loved ones who have reached out to me with love, support, and encouragement. Thank you is not enough. My family wishes you and yours a safe and healthy holiday weekend filled with only good things. Peace!

Coming next week: The video and photo essay of the time we took our clothes off on the beach…