Collaboration: My Camera, My Mirror
A picture tells a thousand words, and in this collection of very personal photographs, renowned social documentarian Tracey Derrick reflects on her journey through breast cancer and explores the many facets of the disease, its treatment and its effects on her and those close to her.
Derrick, a highly respected Cape Town-based photographer, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. After decades of shooting award-winning studies of other people’s cultures and ways of being around the world, she “came home” and turned the camera on herself, documenting the internal and external physical and emotional changes wrought by the disease and its aftermath.
In this “family album” of photographs – shot mainly by Derrick herself,but also by friends and family, using different cameras and various techniques, both old and new – the power is firmly in the hands of the person behind the lens. It covers Derrick’s work and aspects of her life before cancer, through treatment, and in the present. “Holding the camera gave me power and enabled me to look objectively at what I was going through,” Derrick says. “It was a process that enabled me to move forward and finally close a chapter.”
Resolutely self-reliant and, before her diagnosis, completely secure in her own physical and mental abilities, Derrick had to learn to both ask for and accept help. This taught her that she wasn’t alone, that illness was part of life, and that exposing the journey through cancer in all its various forms stripped it of its secrecy and weakened the fear of the unknown. “Photography became a tool for healing,” she says.
By Tracey Derrick