My first full year making pictures at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center was an interesting experience. Adjusting my thoughts and actions away from the immediate (often panicked) needs of a major news website to the calmer needs of a research center has been challenging because old habits die hard. That newsy impulse to responsively gather, edit and quickly publish is deeply ingrained into how I think of and respond to events. Slowing my communication metabolism down, even a couple notches, has been crazy difficult at times, but I feel sincerely lucky to have the opportunity to do so at this stage of my career. It’s not that I want to slow down. It’s that I want to do something that lives beyond the immediate news window. Maybe it’s about reaching for something that feels a little more meaningful. I’m not sure, but it feels good.
I just spent a week looking at every picture I made in 2014, and it was painful. It hurts to see the visual evidence of my mistakes and missed moments. I found myself whispering some version of “if I’d only…” way too many times. However, I’m glad I took the time to critically look at everything. It will help me be better in the coming year.
The thing I didn’t expect was the flood of emotions I experienced as I went through all that work. Editing this Year-end slideshow brought back many memories; memories of my coworkers, memories of the doctors and researchers I get to work with, memories of the people I got to make picture of. Some of those memories are surprisingly raw and painful. I believe one in particular will always stick with me. It’s the memory of a sick little boy in Uganda. It’s the memory of his fearful cry, and how the system slowly allowed him to die. It’s the memory of my reaction to him and how ashamed I am that I wasn’t part of a solution. That memory has created a mantra for me. I whisper it when I want to feel sorry for myself. I say it when I want to quit. I sometimes yell it to recharge my efforts, and I say it now as I look to the new year.