Friday, 17 January 2014

Healing Hands 

I used to love finding my own stories. No editors breathing down my neck, more freedom and time to do what I want, and shoot the way I feel. This is one such story. My wife at the time was working for a surgeon who specialised in plastic surgery, and she told me about
children who suffered from Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) sometimes called 'Skin-blister children.' It's a rare skin disorder  in which the top layer of skin doesn't stick properly to the lower layer, therefore the slightest knock can bring the child up in blisters. Fingers and toes can fuse together. More information at the charities website here

Samantha before the operation to separate her fingers which have become fused together

Trust is so important with stories like this. First of all the surgeon had to believe in the reasons why I wanted to do this story, believe in me as a person, and trust me with his patients. I then had to gain the trust of the parents and their children.

Robert preferred to keep himself to himself, staying on the family farm. Animals do not seem to worry how we look unlike humans!

It was such a privilege to do this story, and a huge honour to be allowed into an operating theatre and to see the skill of the surgeon and the team.

Samantha's hand being operated on

Doing a story like this without a commission always carried the risk that nobody would publish it. By the time I travelled around the country photographing some of the children, plus the film and processing, it could get quite expensive. But I believed in the story and thankfully so did the Observer Magazine who published it over three pages. 

If I remember correctly, all shot on Tri-X film an a manual Nikon and a 50mm lens. This was my favourite way of working, simple.

Part of the three page spread in the Observer Magazine


  1. I used to nurse patients with EB and these photos really capture the heart of its effects on children. Really moving work, well done Jon.

  2. Great story- the expressions on Samantha's and the dog's face really make the photographs. Good to see lots more posts coming now!