Ilisa Katz Rissman

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Location: Brooklyn, NY
Nationality: USA
Biography: Visit Ilisa's website: Ilisa Katz Rissman   Katz RIssman began her career as a commercial still life photographer before dedicating herself soley to shooting long-term personal projects, choosing large format analog... read on
Public Story
Laugh, Smile, Take Deep Breath
Credits: ilisa katz rissman
Updated: 12/18/17

Laugh, Smile, Take Deep Breaths

My father and his wife lived in the same house in Springfield, New Jersey for over 30 years. Due to financial constraints and the limitations of their age to care for a home, they were forced to move. This burdensome task of packing up decades of belongings and memories is daunting for anyone, let alone a couple in their eighties. Photographing them at this pivotal time in their lives brought up numerous conflicting emotions. It was often that I felt the pain of inadequacy during my childhood -- often resulting from my father’s insensitivity and anger, and there was the bad divorce from my mother. But relationships are complicated and time has a way of altering our perception of the past.

During the time of shooting, my dad was brought to the hospital with symptoms of extreme fatigue, weakness and a horrible cough. This turned into the beginning of the end as he knew his life to be. His heart was very weak with added complications from fluid in his lungs, decreased muscle strength, high blood pressure, and liver and kidney abnormalities. Surely if he made it out of the hospital at all, it would be a compromised life for him at best.

The time that followed also brought with it a dimished mental state, as my dad experienced the onset of dementia and alzheimer's. I continued to photograph him as they resided in a smaller, more managable home, while exploring the new normal that this disease unwantingly invites. This process has brought us closer, as we have shared the experience of seeing mortality come near while contemplating the frailty of life and the memories we cling to to get through it.


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