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Participant Information

Alan Babbitt


PD Photographer Shakes Things Up.

In October 2003, I was diagnosed with Parkinsonís (PD).

ďItís progressive and thereís no cure,Ē said the neurologist. ďUh oh,Ē said the photographer.

Since the late 1960ís, Iíve been doing my own brand of fine art photography and itís always been a great source of joy for me. Drop me almost anywhere thereís nice light and I can happily get lost for hours in the visuals around me.

That began to change when the movement disorder known as Parkinson's Disease (PD) arrived, like a loud, uninvited houseguest who, by the way, won't ever leave. First I got a hand tremor. Oh, great. Shakiness. Just what a STILL photographer needs.

Then, my photography muse, whoíd been with me for years, took off without leaving a forwarding address. The bitch! I soon lost interest in the whole thing - rarely venturing out to shoot and bored with the results. Darkness filled my viewfinder.

Then one night, on the Las Vegas Strip of all places, I began to see the light! And there, before me, appeared a new, improved muse, who leaned in and whispered, "Silly boy! Don't fight it - use it!"

Doh! I began to let the tremor have its way as I clicked the shutter. Whoa!!

The visual gumbo of flashing lights, multi-tinted neon and watery reflections became wonderful smears, blurs and streaks of color. Now THIS was fun!

The camera, a point and shoot digital, was unconvinced, beeping and moaning as it vainly tried to find something solid to focus on - while being shaken like a paint can at the hardware store.

But the mojo was working and I made some very intriguing images that night. More importantly, I felt something shift in me - changing how I see my photography, my PD, and for that matter, the world.

Liberated from the photo dogma of ďstillĒness and sharpness, Iíve experienced a rush of creative freedom like never before. Rules? Who needs rules?

And ironically, by giving up trying to control the tremor, Iíve taken back a little control from a mostly uncontrollable situation! And that in turn has created a boost in confidence, mood and energy. But best of all, the fun and joy are back.

All thanks to that pesky tremor! Is that weird or what? The damn disease has given me a terrific gift!

Hmmm. I wonder what else is in there?

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