Moscow, Moscow, Moscow …

Pleased to have three images selected to each receive an ‘Honorable Mention’ in the just announced 2020 ‘Moscow International Foto Awards’. Especially pleasing is that all three are relatively ‘new’ images … two made in February and the other made in India last October.

It is the first ‘accolade’ for the portrait of Bonn … “Bonn Marie – Asking the Question” … made at a social gathering in the studio shed of fellow Cairns photographer Marc Steiner. It was Bonn’s first real time seriously in front of the camera … she’s a talented little red head and done very good ! (it’s also the first time one of my pics has been mentioned in a ‘Fine Art’ category.)

Kate … my subject in “Kate – Waiting for Her New Breasts” … is one of the very nicest and most resilient women I’ve met. To cut a long story short … Kate had a double mastectomy eight years ago after being diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer and expected to have reconstructive surgery soon after. Thanks to the inadequacies of the hospital wait list system she is still waiting …

The image ran front page of the Queensland Sunday Mail and prompted the Queensland Health Minister to fast track her surgery … than along came covid-19. She’s still again (patiently) waiting …

This is the second mention for Kate’s image following it’s selection as a Finalist in the Percival Photographic Portrait Prize currently exhibiting at the Perc Tucker Gallery in Townsville.

“Ramnami” is a image I made in Chhattisgarh, India whilst on a day off from covering the story of Indian coal mining giant Adani’s continued destruction of the Hasdeo Arand forest and it’s tribal Gond peoples. Maherttar Ram Tandon is member of the Hindu sect Ramnami Samaj and his entire body is covered with the tattooed text of their god रामराम – Ram Ram – making him one of the only five still surviving ’Naksikh’.

This image has also just been selected on the shortlist of the global and prestigious ‘Portrait of Humanity’ 2020 collection and will be, amongst other things, projected on a screen in the stratosphere and then transmitted as a digital binary file through space on a (possibly) never ending journey. More details about the Image and it’s space journey are here …

The Moscow International Foto Awards have become something of an annual habit and have clocked up a fair few mentions since the first win in 2014. Check through the years here if so inclined

Images © Brian Cassey


Moscow International Foto Awards 2020 - winning images by Brian Cassey x 3

Kate … “I Deserve to Feel Like a Whole Woman” …

We’d like to think otherwise but In all honesty it’s pretty rare that our work in the media actually makes a substantial ‘difference’.

Every now and then something comes along to restore your faith in the role of the media … and reminds us why we work in this ‘game’.

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to take images of ‘Kate’ … studio shots showing her character and the scars that have been part of her life since a double mastectomy following a breast cancer diagnosis years ago. The Sunday Mail have been going hard on a campaign to reduce hospital waiting times for surgery in Queensland hospitals … and Kate Yeoman is a prime example.

Kate is one of dozens who have been on hospital waiting lists for breast reconstruction surgery for many years. She was diagnosed with rare Tubular Carcinoma cancer eight years ago and endured a double mastectomy. She was advised that breast reconstruction would be implemented at the same time. It wasn’t and she is still waiting …

I made this image (below) in a friends little (private) studio … it featured across page 1 of the Sunday Mail with the head ‘Forgotten Women’ and Kate’s tale by journalists Jackie Sinnerton and Natasha Bita. Kate’s story spread to two more inside pages where it expanded to include narrative from three other women in a similar situation. The story and images have since spread around Australia.

The reaction by readers and the Queensland Government was immediate. The Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles said he was “personally moved” by the Sunday Mail image and story on Kate’s plight and the other women’s stories. “My heart breaks reading the very personal stories of women affected by breast cancer,” Mr Miles said. “I’ve asked for Cairns Hospital to meet with these patients to ensure they receive their surgery as soon as clinically possible.”

Miles has now arranged for twenty four Cairns women with long standing issues to receive their required surgery in Brisbane … whilst Kate will have surgery in Cairns on 2nd of April to reconstruct the breasts she has been without for a too long eight years.

It gets better … in news just to hand (Saturday 29th Feb) the Queensland Government has announced that it will open operating theatres on weekends to ease patient wait lists and will pump in $20 million to do so and to implement other strategies.

Kate … who deserves a bloody medal for her magnificent courage and fortitude … is over the moon.

Kate today said “I am sitting in Kmart crying tears of joy. This is life changing for so many. Thank you to everyone who has recognised the importance of this, Sunday Mail, both sides of government and the public who have reached out after my very personal exposure.  My mum was right, I shouldn’t have to go such extraordinary lengths to get this issue some attention, but I am so proud of what has been achieved. The impact of long waits can be devastating and this much needed funding injection will change and perhaps even save lives.  Let’s hope this also creates a change in policy and that reconstruction is recognised as an important part of the treatment plan for breast cancer patients in Queensland.”

It gives you goosebumps … and I’m so pleased to be a tiny part of a triumph for Kate and many other Cairns women.

Images © Brian Cassey and Sunday Mail (slightly differing images of Kate) (below)

Kate yeoman awaits breast reconstruction surgery following breast cancer diagnoses - image by Brian Cassey

Kate Yeoman awaits breast reconstruction surgery following breast cancer diagnoses - image by Brian Cassey - page 1 Sunday Mail