There should be poetry
About my meeting with Tim Andrews in early April 2018
On my recent UK photography road trip I met many special people. One of them was Tim Andrews, a man of many faces and many stories. We met in Eastbourne at the Towner Art Gallery. Tim is suffering from Parkinson's Disease and has been photographed by over 420 different photographers over the past years. If you haven't heard of him, please take a look at his Over the Hill photographic project (you’ll find the links below).
Tim is a very kind man, an artist, a writer and a true poet. I enjoyed chatting with him over coffee. He told me about his photo project and how his disease has affected his life – too much to take in and grasp within half an hour, but I knew that in the pictures I was going to take of him I wanted to show how Parkinson’s was getting to him. It’s a nasty disease that slowly destroys the central nervous system, and not long ago Tim underwent some kind of brain surgery for treatment. Then we started with the shoot. Unfortunately, he wasn't well that day and could barely walk due to a leg infection, and we didn't have much time.
It was my first real attempt at portrait photography, and I have to say I really liked the whole experience. Tim made it easy for me and always took up the right poses. I used my old Lensbaby (a lens for special blurry effects) because I thought the blur might somehow illustrate what the disease does to the body.
Then I switched to my iPhone camera and tried a few shots, including some with intentional camera movement (ICM), one of my favourite techniques, but it didn’t feel quite right. With ICM it often takes a while to get the images right, and we didn’t have much time left. I only liked the last images I took of him with the phone that day, when he was lying on the shingle beach, with his hurting foot pointing at me. I liked what I saw on the little screen, however, I remember that I also found the situation a bit scary and surreal. It was a chilly day, but the sun was shining down on us and he looked like dead.
Tim wrote a blog post about our first encounter the same evening and sent it to me right away, and I was touched by his kind words and the poem he sent me. Now, more than two weeks down the road, I look at the pictures I took of him again, and they seem even more blurry than in the moments of taking them. Time plays tricks on the mind too. I wish I could write about our meeting in Eastbourne in a more poetic way, but even if I am a translator by profession and I know how to write a proper text, translating my own ideas, impressions and special moments into words is a completely different and certainly more personal thing. I just prefer to use a camera for this kind of translation. Maybe because sometimes words fail me, or words are not enough, or maybe simply because I just love to be still and look and listen to what I see. Even if that is often hard to grasp.
I shall leave the words to Tim now. Please take a look at his blog, and all those great pictures of him too. One more thing: Thank you, dear Tim, for sharing that afternoon with me and for reminding me that there should be poetry in life. I'm looking for it more often now.