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With a steady hand and a willingness to go almost anywhere for a good shot, Alan spent decades turning his lens on people and places to create images he thought would draw the viewer in and tell a story.
“First my thumb started twitching,” he said.
“It was devastating,” he said.
The difficult news was compounded by a side effect of the disease. Parkinson’s causes chemical changes in the brain that can lead to depression. Ironically when Alan began taking an anti-depressant, it compounded his problem, one of the drug’s side effects included tremors.
“It was hard,” he said.
It felt like the passion of his life — the thing Alan had been doing since he was a kid with his first camera, a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye — was slipping away. And then Alan saw something that no one else could see.
“It was almost by accident,” he said.
He decided to push it one step further, clicking off the flash, slowing the shutter speed down, and turning his small point-and-shoot digital camera back at the neon lit streets of Las Vegas. Instead of trying to deny what was happening to him, Alan made his Parkinson’s part of how he made his images.
Just as he’d always done as a good photographer, Alan captured what was invisible to most of us. And thus the creation of what he now calls his “Un-Still Photography.” Instead of trying to steady his hand, the tremors were part of his creative process, generating the swirls and whirls of light that offered unique and arresting images of the world around him.
His epiphany in Las Vegas energized him and he folded that feeling into how the diagnosis itself had changed him. His priorities changed, so did his goals and his notion of what he wanted out of life.
“The world and everything in it became new and fresh and the possibilities were endless,” Alan said.
From that moment in Las Vegas, Alan has begun to push his “Un-Still Photography” into other unexpected arenas including sports photography, particularly baseball. The images he captures including the swirl of a batter’s swing, or the buzzing color of the crowds in the stadium, you can’t see in most sports images.
“It’s turning a negative into a positive,” he said.
That’s what also motivated him to join 23andMe and contribute to research.
Check out some of Alan’s images on his website.