I draw my strength from everything and everyone

Acclaimed photographer Dennis Morris brought our campaign to life

Why did you want to support our campaign?

Well, once I found out that one in four black men would get prostate cancer, I thought it was important to bring awareness to other black men. I think most people aren’t aware of the facts, so I really felt like it was important to be a part of.

What do you hope the man on the street will think and feel about the portraits you’ve taken?

I hope people on the street, when they see the photographs of say Linford Christie and David Haye for example, will go 'Oh wow, I’ve never seen him like that before'. I just really hope people are drawn to the images and want to find out more about the campaign.

Where do you draw your strength from?

I draw my strength from everything and everyone. As a photographer, I think I’ve been very lucky throughout my career to have worked with some very influential people, from Bob Marley to the Sex Pistols and Marianne Faithfull. So for me it’s about meeting people from all types of backgrounds, that is where I get my strength from.

How have you captured strength in the portraits you’ve taken?

For me to capture strength, I have to have a connection with my subject. I did a bit of research before I met the men I’d be photographing so I can build that connection. It’s a very strange thing photography, but I think I have a natural knack of making people feel at ease. I also think when people see who I’ve worked with previously, they gain confidence with me.

Were the locations for the different shoots an important part of this project for you?

When I came to do the shoots, I basically felt it would be great for each person to choose a location where they felt strongest, or a place which brought a feeling of strength to them. With Danny, we shot at the Royal Opera House as he felt that’s a place he particularly liked to be. Benjamin chose his Tai Chi room at his home which he trains in, David chose his gym, which obviously for him is where he trains and feels he has maximum power – it was quite powerful seeing him going through the motions.

It was very varied from location to location, which gave each portrait its own identity.

One of the things I try to do with my photography is to take away the mask and reveal the other side. I hope each man, when they see their photographs, will see a side of themselves they’ve not seen before.

Amongst the black community, awareness of prostate cancer is very low. Why do you think that is?

I think sometimes you are so busy just trying to survive the motions of life that it’s difficult to think outside of that. It’s difficult when you’re trying to make a living and put food on the table, other things just don’t go through your mind. The everyday survival can take over your life.

Why is it important that people get behind this campaign?

Because the more people who get behind it, the more people who will be aware of the issue. It’s also a disease you have to be careful of with your children because their risk could be increased.

(Photograph of Dennis Morris © Dennis Morris assisted by Bolade Banjo)

 

How to become stronger knowing more

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Prostate cancer knocked me down, it didn’t knock me out

Life changed in 2010 for car mechanic Errol McKellar

"You become stronger by talking to people. Telling people that it’s important to get themselves checked is so important, and I hope they not only listen but share that information wider."

Read Errol's story