Photographers often have the honour of capturing some of life's most meaningful moments, and a head shave event is no exception. This week I was privileged to photograph Mandy having her head shaved in preparation for her imminent cancer treatment.
Mandy was been diagnosed with stage 3 Breast cancer about 3 months ago, for which she has undergone removal of the cancerous tissue and auxiliary clearance. Although she is healing well, it was found after a biopsy, that the lymph nodes were more infected than they first anticipated, creating a need for an aggressive course of Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy over the coming weeks. Mandy's daughter Heaven and friend Emma, who has also battled this horrible disease, were also having their heads shaved in support.
The event was hosted by the Westbury Social Club in my home town of Bury St Edmunds, and I arrived as friends and family were beginning to gather. Their love, and support for Mandy was clear to see and she was surrounded by a sense of strength and courage. All three were calm, but their eyes naturally revealed a hint of uncertainty.
As the photographer at such an occasion, my aim isto not get in the way of the proceedings, and to take natural images without any organisation or posing. A skill I learnt well from my days as a wedding photographer, and made easier with the use of my zoom lens, allowing me to grab moments from a distance.
As the head shaves began, I was focused on capturing each moment with empathy and care. I took close-up shots of the process, capturing the look of determination on the participants faces.
Naturally there were some tears, and Heaven's daughter Isla was clearly unsure of her mummies new look.
The shave was over in about half an hour, but not before two gentlemen offered to also undergo the treatment in support of Mandy, and to help raise even more money for their chosen charity; "Our Special Friends".
After the event, I reflected on what I had just witnessed. I was moved by the love and support that surrounded Mandy, and I was proud of the images I had captured. The process of capturing a head shave event is both emotional and meaningful, and I felt honoured to have been a part of this family's journey.
All five of them were transformed, and Mandy rocked her new look!
In conclusion, photographing a head shave event is a unique and powerful experience for a photographer. It requires sensitivity, empathy, and skill, but the end result is a set of images that are beautiful, meaningful, and timeless. The process provides an opportunity to celebrate the human spirit and to preserve the memories of a significant moment in someone's life.
As part of the event, Mandy and the family are raising money for a very special charity close to their hearts: Our Special friends. The family are huge on animal welfare, so this this is the perfect charity for them to raise money for.
Mandy's daughter Siam said, "Although we are raising money for charity, this is also to help the grandchildren understand that being unwell isn’t always a bad thing. That good can come out of a horrible situation. This whole illness has been incredibly traumatic for them, so we hope raising money for another cause will be a welcome distraction.
Any donations are welcome, it will be going toward a really worthwhile local charity. If you cannot donate, please give this a share. Thank you for listening to our story."
Our Special Friends' mission is "To identify, develop, promote and deliver support services which secure the benefits of animal companionship for people at vulnerable times, improving welfare for both."
Click this link if you would like to donate to their cause.
Well done all.