Photography has been a passion of mine ever since my first photography class. Feeling the weight and heft of a “real” camera in my hands for the first time—a manual 35mm SLR (single lens reflex)—was exciting, I remember. I couldn’t wait to shoot rolls of film and then watch in the darkroom as blank white sheets of paper magically transformed into black and white images that I had created. I was entranced and inspired by the entire process, and I still am today.
Although I still love film, today, I mostly shoot photos using a digital SLR camera. That’s why I chose to include my old, manual 35mm camera in one of the images for this post. It’s the first camera that sparked my passion for photography.
“Today, I’m still picking up my camera. Through good days and flare-ups, I refuse to let the joint pain and swelling of RA make me put it down.”
Also included are a few photographs that I took for a self-portrait assignment for a photography class in college. Being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) significantly affected my entire collegiate experience. Those undergraduate years were a time of great physical and emotional pain, as my rheumatologist and I struggled to find a disease management plan that worked well for me. My hands hurt constantly, fingers were unbendable, and swollen wrists screamed out in pain. Walking was almost unbearable.
A year before the self-portrait was taken, I had surgery on my right wrist. Unfortunately, by the time I had the surgery, the joint was permanently damaged with all of its cartilage eaten away by RA inflammation.