Not long ago, Sarah-Jane Stazek lived for adventure. Whether it was rock climbing or sailing, she was up for whatever life had in store for her. Unfortunately, the aftermath of a routine surgery would change the way she’d live her life forever. As she woke from an anesthetic slumber, she discovered that a spinal cord injury had left her paralyzed. In the years since, learning to adjust to life as a quadriplegic has proven to be infinitely more challenging than her most harrowing escapades of the past. Constantly, she combats against frequent body spasms, poor core strength, and minimal hand functionality. It’s very possible that she may never walk again:
Although the situation has caused SJ a great deal of grief, she’s managed to persevere for the sake of her young son, Hamish. Inspired by her dedication as a mother despite the circumstances she’s found herself in, two compassionate photographers (as well as the folks from Adobe, Wacom, and more) put together an amazing experience for SJ and Hamish.
Benjamin Von Wong and Karen Alsop each organized a photo shoot that would allow mother and son to experience the adventures that were once an integral part of SJ’s everyday life. With camera in hands and a slew of equipment and crew members at their disposal, each photographer took the shoot in drastically different directions. First up was Von Wong. Anxious to work with SJ and Hamish in the nearby Blue Mountains, he rigged mother and son to climbing equipment. With the help of his creative team, the two were hoisted up into the air, suspended off the edge of a cliff. Wheelchair and all.
Alsop, on the other hand, opted to stick to the studio. However, thanks to the power of Photoshop, she was able to build an equally striking image piece by piece by photographing isolated parts of SJ’s body and compositing them together in post production.
Blown away by the opportunity to connect with her son and overcome the sorrows she’s faced since her surgery, it’s easy to understand why SJ became emotional when discussing photography’s ability to manipulate and create realities. Through the medium, she’s been able to change her outlook. Today, she spends much of her time advocating for greater accessibility in her rural community. For more information on SJ’s efforts, visit her crowdfunding campaign.
“I like Hamish seeing me pushing myself, being part of these projects, and shooting this stuff together. I guess it’s just another example of grasping a moment where I can share with him and he can see me doing something to inspire him.”
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