Hannah Gimblett on photography
by Hannah Gimbett.
“From the age of 13, I have been unable to walk. I grasp hold of any opportunity that I can to pick up a camera”.
The first moment of being gifted a film camera as a six-year-old is a moment that I very much treasure, as it was the inception of my creative mind-expanding. Beforehand, there were always cameras in the house, especially with my Mum capturing those precious moments of me and my brother, which sparked something creatively that I have an immeasurable amount of gratitude for.
That year happened to be eventful for other reasons, including ongoing health issues and excessive joint pain coming to the surface I was later diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis. To have a chronic condition at such a young age, unfortunately, had an enormous impact on my childhood. Nonetheless, photography hid away in the background for me to go back to intermittently over the coming years.
As time went by, my health deteriorated further, with added chronic conditions coming into the mix, which led me to incredibly dark times, both physically and mentally. To be debilitated due to chronic illness, where there currently is no treatment or cure, certainly is a difficult thing to stomach at times.
Despite the lack of hope that I felt in my teens, photography kept popping back up in such a wonderfully natural way that it rapidly became my main passion in life. It happened to me when I transferred to a nursing home (after years of hospital stays) that I started to delve into this remarkable art form further, especially when it came to the world of concert photography it was an electric moment to shoot my very first gig in Bristol, 2012. That excitement still ignites inside whenever I engage with photography, no matter what the subject on the other side of the lens might be.
The following year, I moved to an adapted property with my family in Devon, which thankfully gave me the sense of hope that I desperately needed. It also allowed me to study via an online diploma course to set me on the right path in my photographic journey.
In my early-mid-twenties, I well and truly threw myself into the local music photography scene/community, both in terms of portraiture and the concerts, that initially sparked a light inside of me back in my teens. From online blogs to publications to eventually creating a music magazine, it certainly was a gargantuan effort to combat chronic pain, being a full-time wheelchair user and trying to pursue my favourite form of creativity to the best of my ability. I released three issues before my health took a further nosedive.
From the age of 13, I have been unable to walk and, it continues to be an uphill struggle. To take each day with a sense of gratitude is, of course, easier said than done, but is essential, hence why I grasp hold of any opportunity that I can to pick up a camera; whether that be film or digital, I appreciate the benefits of both formats.
Since June 2019, I have been bed-bound, which unfortunately has currently halted the work I am very eager to create. Nonetheless, my passion has not withered during these seemingly impossible times, hence continuing to give me a positive focus. To be stuck in bed for years certainly changes my perspective on the world around me, which has developed into the ‘Process of time; Same view, different perspective’ project. It has not only helped my emotional well-being but raises much-needed awareness for the various severities of chronic illness.
Envisioning being in my wheelchair again, a camera in hand, pursuing long-term goals/projects, engaging with the local community, and having the opportunity to expand my knowledge with a different form of online study is a wonderful thought and one that continues to bring me hope.
Images © Hannah Gimblett 2021.
You might also like this interview with German photographer Hannah Schemel. https://silvergrainclassics.com/en/2021/07/hannah-schemel-friday-focus/
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