Hello, I’m Nicolás Hagen. I’m 22, an artist, photographer, and cancer survivor. Soon, I’ve just released my fully Polaroid photography book, Reason for Visit. I was diagnosed with stage 3B testicular cancer December 21st, 2018. Scariest day of my life. This book is basically a journal of all that I went through.
That being: surgery, chemotherapy, a ton of emotional ups and downs, then just life in general. I would compulsively add everything I felt and thought to my Notes App. Writing everything down was just a way to release these feelings, it wasn’t my intention to make a book when I started taking notes. It’s cool to look back and see what I was thinking at the time, then looking at how I translated this into my book.
Back before I was diagnosed I would post pretty casually to Instagram. The art form of photography was something that had the majority of my attention. Even back then, photography was a great release for me. At the time, I had way too many ideas for photography books but nothing was really sticking. It wasn’t until cancer that I gained a real focus in photography. So for a while nobody knew what was going on. I wanted to share the big news online but wasn’t really sure how. That’s when it hit me, I felt that I should go about all of this without hesitation.
So I sprung up, got my camera and shot whatever I was feeling. No premeditated ideas or poses, just my camera and my feelings because that’s what cancer did to me. It didn’t warn me, it just happened instantaneously; then everything changed. Which is similar to Polaroids.
Instant photography can be messy and filled with imperfections. It was also convenient, being that it was really difficult for me to get up to develop photos. With my Polaroid, I could feel something, think of a way to capture that, and shoot it all in the same day. Sharing how I was feeling with the world was therapeutic. Because of cancer, I got to inspire others, answer questions, and be a voice in this huge community online. So because of the immense darkness I was put through, I found so much love. I was shown a new way to look at life. I lost a testicle but gained a new pair of eyes.
Now I get to share the big picture. This is my first official project that I’m releasing to the public and I’m really happy with how it came out. Everything that went into this book was done so with intention, I’m hoping the hard work shows. Check out my other work on Instagram @nicolas.himself – my book is available here