This is Elijah. Elia Luciani was born in 1923 in Carrufo, Italy, a small mountain village northeast of Rome. She lived a full life – she had her first child at the age of 16, moved to Canada in the 1950s and worked for 30 years as the head of the sewing department of a clothing factory. In her 90s, she was diagnosed with dementia.
"This wonderful photo Mother made summarizes her life," said her son Tony. "Here she is and take a self-portrait that was taken in a dresser mirror, with her aging face partially hidden behind a small camera and surrounded by meaningful family photos."
Elias Selbstporträt is one of the three winners of the first issue of Still Living, a photo contest for people with dementia or Alzheimer's. It was organized by the Bob and Diane Fund. The other winners are Cynthia Huling Hummel from New York and Pauline Singier from France with Susan Rioult, selected from 75 applicants in eight countries.
For four years, the Bob and Diane Fund has hosted a photo contest for professional photographers with the aim of raising the visual awareness of a disease "that has been misunderstood for far too long," said Gina Martin, who put the fund on hold.
The idea for this new competition came from a conversation Martin had with Geri Taylor. A friend who was diagnosed with dementia in 2012.
"We present ourselves to the world with our speech, and if we have difficulty speaking and fumbling, that's not a pretty picture," said Taylor. "But the ability to create beauty through the camera, tell a story through the camera is a means of communication and presentation as a human being."
That's what Elia did with her photo, her son said. "It shows the world from her point of view, her perspective, that she can still give meaning," he said. "[That’s] a powerful message that deserves credit."
– Oliver Laurent