Inspiration Photos & Projects

My “Reason for Visit,” stage 3B cancer – By Nicolás Hagen

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.

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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

Thank you.

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24 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply
    thorsten
    August 8, 2019 at 10:22 am

    Love and hugs from Berlin. Great how you you took this thing and turned it into a positive process with an amazing product in the end, very inspiring.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      nicolas.himself
      August 8, 2019 at 3:18 pm

      So much love back to you.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Naranjilla
    August 8, 2019 at 10:36 am

    What a tough experience to go through, and so – relatively – young to be dealing with life-changing illness. So pleased that you found a way to create your way through the challenges (though I’m sure it was far from easy most days of the week). The images are fantastic and the story inspirational. You deserve much success. I wish you the best in consolidating your recovery and living a fulfilling, creative life hereafter.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      nicolas.himself
      August 8, 2019 at 3:18 pm

      You’re so sweet, I’m flattered. Thanks for saying all that.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Marc Proste
    August 8, 2019 at 10:45 am

    Wow. You just changed my day.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      nicolas.himself
      August 9, 2019 at 2:35 am

      ❤️

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    Reply
    James
    August 8, 2019 at 4:06 pm

    Your work is so inspiring! It is so good to see, how you took your fate and turned your darkest thoughts and moments and changed them into something good and powerful. My wife had to go through a similar situation when she got the diagnosis of breast cancer, so I know a little about the things that happen and the thoughts that are going on in constant repeat. She is technically speaken recovered by now, but it made an impact on all of us. I wish you ongoing strength and am sure, that your work will not only help you but many people sharing such experiences. All the best from Germany!

    • Avatar
      Reply
      nicolas.himself
      August 9, 2019 at 2:34 am

      Thank you so much! Glad I could inspire, it means a lot to even be able to do that. I’m hoping nothing but the best for you and your wife.

  • Dan Castelli
    Reply
    Dan Castelli
    August 9, 2019 at 1:05 am

    Cancer sucks. I’ve been the designated driver for too many of my family as they go through chemo.
    To turn your blackest moments into a document that elevates photography to art is courageous. I hope I’d have the presence of mind to do what you did if faced with the same prognosis.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      nicolas.himself
      August 9, 2019 at 2:37 am

      Thanks for doing what you do. It just felt right to me, like I had a purpose.

      • Avatar
        Reply
        Kodachromeguy
        August 9, 2019 at 8:18 am

        Wow, Nicholas, this is a moving story, and you are courageous to document your treatment and daily difficulties. Good for you, you are brave. I’m optimistic that you will pull through. Best of luck to you and your family.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Marco Milani
    August 9, 2019 at 9:40 am

    Thank you Nicolás for sharing this article. I am very curious about your work. Good luck for all your future projects.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      nicolas.himself
      August 11, 2019 at 3:56 pm

      Thanks! I have much more planned for the future

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Taffy
    August 9, 2019 at 10:34 am

    Wishing you the best Nicolas. Cheering you on as a survivor and an artist. My mother is a cancer survivor too and I’m going to show her this post of yours to uplift her with your story. We just made it to a small milestone lately and I found the guts to write something about it here: https://medium.com/@taffyledesma/lessons-cancer-taught-me-a-sons-reflections-on-his-mother-s-disease-da7033410a0

    Thanks for this work of yours. It is a reminder that we are much greater than we often think we are.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      nicolas.himself
      August 11, 2019 at 3:55 pm

      Thank you! You’re so right. Send love and my hopes for a life full of health to you/your mom! I’ll check that out

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Huss
    August 10, 2019 at 8:07 am

    I wish you the best of everything.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      nicolas.himself
      August 11, 2019 at 3:54 pm

      Thank you! Much love

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Keith Tomlinson
    August 11, 2019 at 8:07 am

    Brilliant. All the best

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Jonathan Hodder
    August 11, 2019 at 3:35 pm

    Great series. Wishing you the best of luck for many more projects for many more years to come.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      nicolas.himself
      August 11, 2019 at 3:54 pm

      Thank you so much, I have so many more ideas I gotta execute.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    David
    August 12, 2019 at 11:18 pm

    Well done for coping as well as you have and kudos for documenting the entire experience. From personal experience, I believe you will find that as you get older, you will forget more and more about what you have been through. As the regular check-ups take place at longer and longer intervals, it is easy to become complacent and simply forget what happened. Use your interest in photography to keep track of what you have been through and what is yet to come. Live life to the full and try not to waste your time. Your time is far too precious and there are so many wonderful things that can be captured as images. Note to myself: remember to date and add notes to my contact sheets so that my family and friends can make sense of what I did with a camera when I am no longer there to tell them.

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      Reply
      nicolas.himself
      August 12, 2019 at 11:26 pm

      I hope so! The new normal, life after cancer, has been full of every emotion I can think of. Thank you so much. You’re right, you’re so right! I love life, despite everything. If I can quote myself from my own book “I love life and when I don’t, I love the attitude I carry through it.”

      Thanks for the kind words. Also good note to self, it’s beautiful to want to share even after we’re gone.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Chris Pattison
    August 22, 2019 at 7:52 pm

    The power of an instant camera in the hands of a courageous artist is something to behold.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      nicolas.himself
      August 22, 2019 at 8:40 pm

      Thank you so much for saying that.

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