In focus: 3 photography projects that shed light on Parkinson’s disease


Author: Sophie ParrottPublished: 23 February 2023

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Sarah Webb looking out of a window.

How can pictures help to raise awareness of Parkinson’s? We look back at three inspiring interviews with photographers who have captured honest reflections of life with the condition

Torrance York on conveying her personal experience

When US-based photographer Torrance York was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, she was concerned about how the condition might affect her ability to take photos. Keen to continue pursuing her passion for the art form, she eventually decided to focus the camera on her condition.

The result? A photography collection called ‘Semaphore’. The collection uses various objects and details from daily life to help visually convey her experience with Parkinson’s.

Reflecting on the inspiration behind this collection, which she has exhibited internationally, Torrance said: “Creating these images became playful and rewarding and sometimes emotional as I tried to picture things relating to my fears.”

In October, the photography project will be exhibited at the Danforth Museum of Art, US, and a book, launched with art publisher Kehrer Verlag, showcases some of the imagery in Torrance’s collection.

Torrence York's artwork.

Torrance says “creating these images became playful and rewarding”. Image credit: Torrance York.

Find out more about Torrance York and the images she captured in her collection.

Safi Alia Shabaik on documenting her father’s journey

After her father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, US-based photographer Safi Alia Shabaik moved back to Los Angeles to help take care of him and to be with her family.

The father–daughter duo decided to collaborate on a photo series to help raise awareness of Parkinson’s. The visual series, ‘Personality Crash’, shared an intimate perspective of Aly Shabaik’s experience of the condition.

“Our collaboration stemmed from a heartfelt desire to understand disease, mental illness and loss of self,” Safi recalled. “My father was an active participant and collaborator from the beginning until his last living day.”

Her debut exhibition of ‘Personality Crash’ opened in Los Angeles on 18 February 2023, with a day of programming set to take place on 25 February for virtual attendees – offering people the opportunity to hear from creative artists with Parkinson’s and more.

A photo collaboration to help raise awareness of Parkinson’s. Image credit: Safi Alia Shabaik.

Find out more about what it was like for Safi to document her father’s experience.

Paul Meyler on highlighting young people living with the condition

With a father and grandfather who have both lived with Parkinson’s, UK photographer Paul Meyler was all too familiar with the impact the condition can have on people and their families.

Keen to shine a light on the experiences of young people with the condition, he captured an inspiring series of portrait images titled ‘Living with Early Onset Parkinson’s’.

The aim of the project was to celebrate people “thriving day-to-day while coping with the condition” – some of whom shared their perspectives on managing symptoms and challenging stereotypes with Parkinson’s Life.

Sarah Webb, one of the women photographed as part of Meyler’s series, said of the condition: “People still think Parkinson’s is an ‘old man’s disease’, which is not the case.”

A portrait of a woman.

A portrait of Genna Douglas as part of Paul’s photography series. Image credit: Paul Meyler.

Find out more about Paul Meyler’s portraits – and some of the inspiring women featured.

Lead image credit: Paul Meyler.

Read more:

Ready, set, sew: three fashion projects designed to support people with Parkinson’s disease

Lights, camera, action: three filmmakers sharing stories of Parkinson’s disease

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