When I was still in intensive care, I had an idea in my head of a photo I wanted to take—a self-portrait—I could see it so clearly. It was in my head for months. I called the idea my 'broken statue image.'
I wanted to take a portrait that didn't hide the reality of my injuries, but also didn't show me as a victim. When thinking about it I realized I wanted to photograph myself the way I had photographed others.
This was to be the first photo I would take following my injuries. Nearly nine months to the day after it happened.
A lot of people wanted to take my photograph, but I was aware it was their interpretation of me. I wanted to show people exactly how it is.
People who look at Greek statues never say it's a shame because they're not complete.
I wanted to go back to my days as a fashion photographer and shoot myself in the same way I'd shoot someone for Vogue. I was exactly the person inside, but people talked to me differently because I was in a wheelchair.
I wanted to be blunt about it. That picture represents the strength I felt inside.
(Thanks to Christian Kurmann)
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Original contents copyright 2012 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Richard: "Thanks for sharing this inspiring story. I also found a wonderful TedX talk where Giles shares some of his experiences...
"...And an interview with Giles at NBC. Humbling and inspirational."
Featured Comment by David Aiken: "When my wife got her brain tumour and could no longer drive she got very frustrated with me, and others, trying to do things for her, both the things she could still do and also the things that she couldn't do when that meant that we would stop doing the things we would otherwise be doing in order to do something for her. I couldn't understand why she felt that way and then, three years after she died, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had surgery and came out of hospital with my son and friends wanting to do everything they could for me while I recuperated. I found myself understanding my wife's response to our efforts to assist her. It wasn't that she was ungrateful or didn't appreciate the love that was behind our efforts to assist, but she saw very clearly that what she needed to do was to keep being the person she was and not the one we were seeing. She wanted to get on with her life and she spent the rest of the next nine months living a very full life, not fighting 'a battle with cancer' which was a term she hated. Her example was invaluable to me when I received my own diagnosis.
"It's a wonderful photo and it says very clearly to me that 'This is not what you think it is or what you fear. Nothing important to living and being a person has been lost.' That's a wonderful thing to be telling people."