When photographer Adrain Chesser tested positive for HIV and was diagnosed with AIDS, he knew that he had to break the news to his family and friends somehow. Eventually, he came up with the idea of letting his loved ones know about his condition by inviting them to his studio, one by one, for a simple, intimate photo shoot for an unnamed project. Unbeknownst to them, Chesser intended to reveal his illness and capture their reactions for a powerful portrait series titled I Have Something to Tell You.

Each image in the collection presents a separate, singular person in Chesser's life reacting to the unfortunate news. They each have an expressive response to his secret that is easily seen through their physical demeanor and particularly through their facial expressions. Whether they are creasing their brows, trying to comprehend and soak in the devastating news of their friend's health, clutching their chest in shock and disbelief, or solemnly shedding a tear, each person has a heartfelt, honest reaction.

Chesser says, "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 and 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." He adds, "While these photos are probably the worst pictures ever taken of my friends, they are undoubtedly the most beautiful."

Adrain Chesser website
via [22 Words, Huffington Post]

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  • This is remarkable. I'm sitting here asking myself if I ever had to tell such a news to my family and friends what would I see? if I was told I had such a disease how would my face look, how will someone else see me? I'm thinking of those times when you're talking to someone; that moment you look into each others eyes and someone's tear breaks. its interesting looking at all those faces, its as if they are thinking of something, everything, and nothing all at the same time. thank you so much for sharing.

  • I have to agree with what Simon says below. That said, I viewed the blog, and I am not sure what that says about me.

  • While quite powerful and deeply affecting to see these emotional reactions at the very moment of their conception, I cant shake the feeling that there is something inherently unethical about his choosing to capture them. As the viewer of these photos, I feel uninvited and almost forced into an uncomfortably voyeuristic situation. The sharing of such traumatic and upsetting news between friends and family is a very private exchange; a third party is simply not invited, at least not in the interest of courtesy and good etiquette. But, I suppose if all parties agreed and gave consent then seemingly no harm is done. Regardless of this, I still feel uncomfortable viewing it. Perhaps this was the photographer's intention, or maybe it's the intimacy and emotional exposure in the subjects reactions that brings on the discomfort. Does anyone else feel this way about it?

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