When You’re a Photographer Within a Community That is Grieving

A month ago one of my heroes died. If you are part of the harm reduction community you likely already know who Dan Bigg was, and you are probably trying to come to terms with knowing he is no longer in the world. (If you don’t know who he is go and read this article by Tessie Castillo to give you an idea of the man he was). Dan was also my friend and someone who, on more than one occasion, allowed me to point a lens in his direction.

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The Photograph Not Taken

I’ve been fortunate to have been given access to photograph at the two Drug Consumption Rooms in Australia, the Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) which has been running for over 17 years, and the recently opened Melbourne Medically Supervised Injecting Room (MSIR). Most of the photos I’ve been taking are of the staff and the facilities at the projects… but I’d like to describe the photo I didn’t take.

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Chicago Recovery Alliance

In 2017 I was invited to visit the Chicago Recovery Alliance one of the most respected harm reduction services in the United States. The visit was a mixture of different work projects but included photography around the service and of it’s staff for a future web project.

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Museum of Drug Policy

In November I was invited to photograph Release’s 50th birthday celebrations, this included the opening of a pop-up art gallery entitled ‘The Museum of Drug Policy’, workshops on drug policy and drug law, plus a performance by the Sex Workers Opera.

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Photography Helps Me Accept My Face

I’ve never liked the way I look. While I know I’m not extremely ugly, I also know that I would never consider myself ‘good looking’. My face is full of faults, from the scar on my cheek (as a baby I scratched my face quite badly), the way my smile is never full because I’m so self conscious of my crooked teeth, to the way I see that one of my eyelids has a droop… and that’s without getting to the baldness.

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