As both a studio photographer and a team surgeon, I wished to capture formal yet expressive portraits of these children, subjects whose eye disorder has never allowed them to make proper eye contact with a camera – let alone their family or community. Strabismus can induce a lifelong sense of isolation, embarrassment and social discrimination. In juxtaposing these children with their parents, the contrast between the aligned and misaligned eyes becomes much more evident, providing a verisimilitude of a “before and after” surgery comparison. I chose not to photograph the children after surgery as they were in too much pain and their eyes were swollen to permit this.
These are not the clinical images of the sick; instead they are portraits meant to convey a human and parental connection moments before surgery is performed to forever alter the appearance of the child.
On a technical note, I took the portraits in a small utility room just outside the operating area in Hospital Leon Becerra. I employed a blue screen fabric taped to a wall, lit with a single speed light mounted on a flash stand fired through two diffusers. Background plates were shot of the walls of the hospital and later composited these myself in post.
I’ve included several images showing our clinic, operating room and recovery ward to give the portraits a context of our location and situation.