By the time you read this, Jeff Harris will have taken considerably more than 4748 self-portraits. For New Year 1999, rather than resolve, to write a diary for the year, Jeff set himself the task of taking a self-portrait every day. The result is an incredible record of his life through the ups and some very significant downs, not just for a year,but for the last 12 years:
In his own words, at first his shots were somewhat boring and repetitive, but using photography as a tool, he found increasingly interesting and creative ways to portray his life. The initial focus on the project was to attempt to show his life as not being a mundane 9-5 existence but to show him enjoying life to the full. As well as getting friends and family to take a shot, one of the more unique aspects to his visual diary is getting celebrities to take his picture. His creativity particularly shines through in some of these pictures, as he tries to convey the character of the celebrity through the portraits they have taken of him. In one particularly interesting series of shots, he poses as if to avoid being photographed. The photographer is Michael Moore, the renowned documentary filmmaker.
The fluidity of the story is another theme running through Jeff’s pictures. In one shot, he can be seen leaping high in the air on a rock band’s stage. In the next shot we see him the emergency room being treated for a fractured foot sustained during the leap. Further daily images show Jeff’s daily routine barely changing despite being on crutches.
“It gives me something to strive for, if there’s a fence I’m going to climb it, if there’s a river I’m going to canoe down it, but I’m still going.” -Jeff Harris
In 2008 Jeff was diagnosed with cancer, yet throughout this incredibly traumatic time in his life, he continued his one a day self-portrait project, using it as a type of therapy, a constant in his life during a time of incredible changes. He even persuaded his doctor to take images during surgery and recorded his entire experience of treatment and recovery. The surgery has left Jeff permanently paralyzed in his left leg and he is now confined to crutches yet he continues his project, trying to convey the image of a fully able-bodied person he pushes himself to do things that many would think beyond his ability. Jeff’s incredible journey and dedication to recording it has become an inspiration to many people around the world.
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