Essay

A Story Behind A Photograph by Hayleigh Longman

Hayleigh Longman is a recent photography graduate from Manchester School of Art. Her practice consists of working with people through portraiture and social documentary with a creative and abstract approach.

My portrait is of Wendy Lakin who is fifty-two years old, originally from Sheffield and currently living in Pelsall, West Midlands. This photo was taken at Laburnum cottage in Pelsall on the fall of the Easter holidays earlier this year, not long after she had completed her radiotherapy.

For her whole life Wendy has been interested and involved in fashion, music and arts. She currently teaches fashion and textiles at South and City College, Birmingham. On May 2017 she fell ill with breast cancer and as a result of which, Wendy had to have both breasts removed and undergo a course of radiotherapy. Shortly after her radiotherapy was completed in February 2018, Wendy asked me to photograph her at home. Initially, she wanted the photographs for a body campaign she had seen advertised, and she now wants to utilize the images to spread awareness and encourage other women to love their bodies and be body confident no matter what.

Wendy wanted to promote how her battle and experience with cancer had changed the way she looked at her body, in a positive rather than a negative way. It was so rare that someone could be this courageous and wants to share their story to spread their energy. Her most beautiful nature is something that no one can take away from her, and I cannot explain merely with words how empowered by her attitude and outlook I felt after working with her.

Photographing people like Wendy is the reason I am passionate about working with people. I have gained so many different experiences, so much knowledge; from each person I work and have worked with. Particularly when the story they want to share is so personal. As the photographer, you gain a sense of being part of the process. Simultaneously, you get to produce images that contribute in raising awareness for widespread issues and affairs that affect so many people.

https://www.hayleighlongman.com/

@hayleighlongman