Empowered Me


For years now, I had kind of railed against doing a photo series for cancer. It was not due to the nature of the cause, by any stretch. For me it didn’t fit artistically. I felt as though I would be cliche’ if I did it. There were so many photographers (god bless them all!) who have used cancer as a platform to do good with their craft. So, I always pushed away from it.

Cancer affects me. Christmas of 1999, my grandfather came down to my moms house for dinner as he did every year. I was getting married that next April (2000) and asked my grandfather to get fitted for a tux as I wanted him in it. He said he couldn’t but gave no further explanation. It was short, sort of abrupt, but not mean or nasty. But it clearly left some questions, none of which I was prepared or planning on asking. He must have had his reasons. Later on that night, he came up to me in the kitchen and rolled up his sleeves. On his arms were blotches. He had skin cancer and apparently other forms, all of which he kept from us until this time. We lost him May 28, 2000.

My birthday weekend this year, I traveled to SLC, Utah to work with Dancers Against Cancer. They were helping in an event for a young woman diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. The day I traveled, my birthday, I got a text from my sister. That morning, one of my oldest childhood friends lost his battle with cancer. My step father beat throat cancer and my grandmother is battling it currently.

It was towards the end of my trip in SLC that I began to get visions of a portrait series with dancers for cancer awareness. When I started seeing these images, I immediately sent a text to the head of Dancers Against Cancer, damning her. I had finally been bitten by the bug and there was not shaking it.

At that point, I took out my notebook and began jotting down the poses I was seeing. When I got back home, I continued to draft up poses and ideas. Then, I began to locate some bodies for it.

First up was Jane. Jane and I have known each other for a year or so, maybe more? Jane is a dancer with Ballet Fleming which is a company that I shoot for here in Philly and help out on their steering committee. Jane was already coming in for a shoot when I talked to her about participating in this project. She was very excited to be involved. Today was our shoot. Here are some images.

Empowered Me is about just that Empowerment. Strength. Courage. Willpower. Dancers will be used to help portray these traits.

I hope you enjoy it!!!

Here is the scoop (below) on that monumental trip to Salt Lake City!
https://brianmengini.wordpress.com/2011/08/31/dancers-against-cancer/

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