I once heard a saying that ‘diabetics are naturally sweet’. After my latest photoshoot with Mattie, I couldn’t agree more.
As mentioned in one of my previous blogs, my wife works at the Children’s Diabetes Foundation in Colorado. She has worked there on and off for a little over 10 years. She loves her job and loves helping the organization raise money for diabetes research and services for diabetic children. One of her co-workers, Mattie, is diabetic. I honestly cannot remember how the conversation started, but it ended with Mattie and I collaborating on some images that she could hopefully use on social media to further educate the general public on diabetes.
Since I am not diabetic, I know nothing about diabetes other than what I might randomly hear on the news or from a conversation I might overhear at work. During our shoot, I learned more about diabetes than I imagined I would. But my intent is not to educate you on diabetes. If you are looking for that information, please visit the Children’s Diabetes Foundation. They are a remarkable source of information and support. In fact, you can follow Mattie’s blogs on their site as well. My intent is to show the never ending routines some diabetic individuals must deal with on a day to day basis. Although I hope the organization can use the images to further their cause, I think it’s also important to see the side of it most of us do not know about. What better way to do that than with images.
I think when most people hear the term ‘diabetes’, they instantly think of pricked fingers and insulin shots. But as I found out during our shoot, there is far more to it than that. I hate needles, always have, and I’m willing to bet most people feel the same way. My intent was to get some simple diabetes related images first and to save the finger pricking for the last few images of our session so she didn’t have to endure the pain throughout the whole shoot. I would term my thought process now, as ‘diabetic ignorance’. She brought a lot of equipment we could work with for the shoot and she explained how everything worked, including pricking her finger right there on the spot! I was blown away! Something I was trying to protect her from until the end of the shoot, she had done in the first few minutes without hesitation or concern. Not only did I reaffirm in that instant that I am a whimp, I also learned the strength Mattie has discovered in herself from years upon years of dealing with diabetes. But there’s more….
She used the shoot as a time to document the entire process she goes through on a routine basis. She demonstrated how she installs monitors.
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She also demonstrated how she installs her insulin pump.
…and the foods she eats when she needs sugar. I also learned that she indeed can eat sugar, something I always thought diabetics were not supposed to do. Again, diabetic ignorance.
Lastly, we ended with the quintessential finger prick and blood test. In all honesty, she wanted an image showing all of her fingers pricked but I wanted a more close-up and personal image just using a single finger. I can’t imagine purposely pricking one finger, let alone all of them.
I simply had no idea what most diabetics go through. Mattie has a strength I think most of us will never know or understand. Hopefully through these images, those of us with diabetic ignorance can at least begin to understand what she goes through day in and day out. Most of my shoots are about trying to capture great images, and I think we got some great ones, but this shoot felt more like photo journalism – albeit a simple form. I was simply trying to capture the truth of the moment regardless of how it looked. Mattie is an amazing, beautiful, strong, and incredibly sweet individual that has changed how I personally view diabetes. Out of all of the shoots I have done to date, I am most proud of these images because of what they stand for – resilience and strength. Besides learning A LOT about diabetes and finding a new appreciation for those that have to deal with it, I may have stumbled across a new model that’s interested in some extreme ideas! Hopefully you’ll be seeing more images from my newly discovered photogenic diabetic, Mattie, soon!
Keep the interesting parts of life in focus.