Take a second to think of one of the most difficult moments in your life. You can recollect the sentiment, whether it's fear or pain, anger or disbelief, but you won't ever be able to fully recreate the experience — and maybe that's a good thing. Maybe you would rather not revisit those feelings with such precise clarity.
But Seattle-based photographer Adrain Chesser used his camera to bravely capture the exact moment his world irreversibly changed. When Chesser learned he was HIV positive and was diagnosed with AIDS, he called his family and friends into his studio for a private shoot. As each person was then given the news of Chesser's diagnosis, he photographed their reaction for his project "I Have Something To Tell You."
The result is a series of provocative images that create a stirring narrative of one extremely difficult moment in Chesser's life. The rawness, the uncensored honesty of the images makes it a startling and stunning introspection on time, mortality and human emotion.
Each person reacts differently: Some cry, their faces sincere and caring:
Others look off in disbelief, as if the news has not yet sunk in:
And others look shocked, their eyes wide open:
"I've always felt I would do almost anything to know the power of holding a split second in my hands, and look at it as long, as lovingly as I care to, to capture something as elusive as an emotion, and to feel the power of that emotion possess me each time I look at it," Chesser said. "While these photos are probably the worst pictures ever taken of my friends, they are undoubtedly the most beautiful."
These images are beautiful because there is no pretense, no makeup, no fantasy. They are tragic and they are earnest, but most importantly, they speak to our own lives and our own experiences.
Chesser's photographs may be uncomfortable for some, as they reveal people coming to terms with change in a moment these individuals will always know deeply altered their lives. But while the images give us a glimpse into the photographer's world, they also force us to reflect on our own.
Art in this way is more than just aesthetic. It is healing. Art has been shown to help people cope with pain and anxiety, help children confront tragedy and help individuals work through challenging emotional issues.
We all understand thatlives can change in just minutes; whether through heartbreak or happiness our worlds can be toppled over with a single revelation. Chesser's photos resonate because we can empathize with the unsaid emotions each person expresses — and that empathy also helps us understand our own existence.
Image Credit (all): Imgur