It’s been three and a half months now since the incident, and today was kind of a rollercoaster of emotions. The most intense physiotherapy session yet, which left me with what looked like half a can of warpaint smudged down my cheeks; a performance at an open mic which somehow, after this long out of practice, led to compliments from accomplished musicians; and an arrival home to what follows, after I’d dug up the final images from the photoshoot where it all went down (sorry, couldn’t help it!).
I spent an hour or so Frankensteining my way around a couple of the final images my friend Jen shot before I fell and snapped my arm into pieces, trying my hand at editing, and ended up with something I rather liked. I had to ask if it was okay if I shared it – poor Jen was as traumatised by the whole thing as I was, and I wasn’t sure if seeing the final image would resurrect bad memories – but she gave me her blessing, and then wrote this. My heart is full of appreciation for this wonderful woman, and my eyes full of tears. Not only did she offer to pay for my ambulance, but she rode with me, stayed with me, made sure my AC arrived, bought my prescriptions, and food… It’s been such a lonely struggle at times, and this written piece, as well as this girl, is far too full of kindness for me to accept. <3
Here’s the story through the eyes of the friend who shared this life-changing moment with me. It went viral within an hour of being posted.
“I want to share with you an image, and a story, one that hurts my heart to tell. The image that you are about to see followed a disastrous shoot and ended tragically.
In early August, Emily Wood and I had our hearts set of doing a shoot that was based around the concept of a young woman who was suffering mentally. We wanted to base the shoot as if we were seeing in through her eyes, in a very dark, creepy manner. It started out great – we had wonderful hair and makeup (see Les Kiesman – Hairstylist and Amazing Makeup You Love), and of course, Emily, the lovely model. We had a hospital gown, black “blood”, and a box. And abandoned houses. Yay!
It all went downhill from there.
Barely into the shoot, having barely scraped the images we were wanting to get, my camera batteries unexpectedly died (despite having left them charging the night before). That’s what I get for using no name batteries.
We were an hour out of the city with no access to another DSLR and another battery. Lesson learned for me. I felt horrible about the entire thing, I had let the team down. I very much dislike being the weak link in a situation and was beating myself up pretty good for it. But we decided to try to make the best of things, head back to the city, grab Emily’s camera, and make our way to see if we could pull something off in the exchange district.
We were making levitation shots, and Emily was high up. And then she fell. She fell hard, on her shoulder. There was at first surprise, then shock, then screaming. Emily was in excruciating pain, and I called the ambulance.
I’d like to take this moment to just reflect on what a brave and amazing woman Emily is. She broke her shoulder/arm in three places, and still manages to keep a smile on her face. She’s been unable to work, has been forced to move out of her apartment since, and yet sees through it all to take something positive out of it. One of the first things she asked me out of the hospital was if I still wanted to edit those images (she really wanted to see them). She does not hide from problems, she takes them head on.
I’d also like to take this moment to talk about [AC]. [AC] is Emily’s significant other, and he does not cease to amaze me. He met us at the hospital, he quit his job so he could help look after her, he also had to move as a result of this unfortunate event, and he too keeps a positive attitude and a smile on his face. [AC] is beyond a wonderful person, and deserves all the credit in the world for his actions these last few months.
Months after this event, Emily’s bones are finally starting to show signs on healing, slowly. Emily has a job to go back to, [AC] now has a job again, and they are on their way to getting back onto more stable ground. I’m still astounded by the way they handled everything with such grace.
Now that that’s been said (and it needed to be said first, seriously, these two people are amazing), I want to talk to you as a photographer. As a photographer, this is one of my worst nightmares come true. I never, never want to see someone get hurt as a result of a shoot I take them on. And normally, I’m on the ball about it. You can sure as hell bet that I was the one making sure that any place Emily stepped in those building were safe, and I knew because I stepped there first. But one wrong thing set off a chain of events that led me to stop thinking clearly, to think that, hey, maybe this shot in this particular location isn’t really a great idea.
We can’t afford to lose our heads this way. We can’t afford to not be diligent. First and foremost, safety has to come first, in everything that we do. Don’t let something that goes wrong in the beginning cloud your judgement.
Story isn’t over yet. Earlier this evening, Emily blew my mind. She took the images from her camera (the ones right before she fell, the ones I didn’t have the heart to look at), and made something incredible out of them (one handed, no less). Not only does she have some fantastic technical skill, but her bravery to look back onto a moment that had a fairly terrible memory attached to it didn’t stop her.
Emily, you are absolutely one of the best people I know. I hope that one day I can achieve your level of awesome.”
I love you, Jen, and I don’t know what I would’ve done without you. Despite everything, I’m so glad we got to make this together. <3
Original post at Jen’s Facebook page here, which is full of her incredible artistic talent.