Cancer Connections

Olivia Kachman's photo of Teresa Nuthall and her son Grayson, which was one of 19 photos selected to appear in the Canadian Cancer Society's annual report.

Teresa's sister, Lisa Murray, had died of cancer two months before they attended this Relay for Life.


Cancer Connections photos help to garner two prestigious awards

Photos from PhotoSensitive’s Cancer Connections exhibition have recently figured in two prestigious national design awards.

Awards for the 2009 National Unisource Annual and Corporate Report Show were handed out last month in Toronto. The awards recognize the best annual reports and corporate brochures that are printed on Unisource papers. 

The Canadian Cancer Society produced its annual report using almost 20 photos from the Cancer Connections exhibition to promote the show and highlight the organization’s work with cancer prevention, research and awareness.

The report was designed by HM&E Design Communications and received the prestigious Best of Show award in the annual reports category.

The five judges, all from the world of design and printing, were unanimous in their praise for the report in general and PhotoSensitive’s photos in particular.

Carey George of Up Inc., Toronto, said “What made this annual report such a success was not its typography, copy or use of colour – it was all about the photography. The candid and often graphic images of people before, during and after their fight with cancer were unexpected and moving. I read all the photography captions before any other messaging… the biggest applause should go to the people in the photographs themselves for allowing us to view such personal moments.”

Diane Blahey, the Principal and Creative Director at Tom Powell Design Studio, Winnipeg, said, “The honest and moving photographs are complimented by a vivid and uplifting colour palette that provides a backdrop for optimism and hope.”

And Pamela Lee of SamataMason Design Inc., Vancouver, said, “The writing, photography, design and physicality of the Canadian Cancer Society’s annual report adds up to a strong piece of communication. It compels you to read it from back to front. It brought tears to my eyes.”

Unisource’s National Director, Specification Sales, Susan Corbeil, commented that the competition’s judges are all extremely well respected designers in their field, who would have been drawn to the artistic elements of the entries. In making their judgments, they would have been looking for several elements in each category, including typography, writing and flow.

According to Corbeil, the CCS’s annual report was, “A simple but beautiful and engaging piece. It is quite subdued but with very uplifting colours. It was a combination of so many things that helped it to win.”
Corbeil also felt that the photography itself played a large part in the report’s success. “The photos are what engaged the viewer,” she said. “Cancer is a difficult subject for people to talk about but literally from one photo to the next, it draws the viewer in. The photography was a huge component.”

Paul Haslip of HM&E Design Communications was the art director and one of the designers for the project. “When I was told that I could use the PhotoSensitive photos for the report, I was thrilled,” said Haslip. “I had seen the show at City Hall in Toronto, I love black and white photography, so when the client told me that they were thinking of using the PhotoSensitive images, I said, ‘This is perfect for you guys.’ I saw it as a no-brainer.”

Apart from ensuring a balance of ages, gender and ethnicity, Haslip’s main problem in choosing the 19 photos to appear in the report was to whittle them down from around 500 potential images – but it was a problem that he was more than happy to have to deal with.

“We do a lot of projects for a lot of clients and to have a full site of original photography to choose from does not come around very often,” said Haslip. “Our job was not to blow it!”

Haslip and his colleagues were thrilled at winning the Unisource award – they felt that they had a winner on their hands, but were surprised to win the Best of Show award. “Everyone knew that we had such great imagery, but we weren’t sure that it would resonate so deeply emotionally,” said Haslip. “As heart-wrenching as some of these photos are, there is a beauty about life and hope in them that we really liked.”

Even with solid images at his disposal, Haslip was concerned that they still had a big job to make sure the annual report was a success. “We wondered about what would be the right visual platform, the size, the fold cuts,” he said. “We were nervous about them because that can all go wrong. But sometimes a job like this just comes together. Being inspired by the photos really helps.”

The Canadian Cancer Society was grateful to be able to use the Cancer Connections photos in its annual report, to put a real and human face to the disease and underscore the importance of the Society's work in fighting cancer.

Tommi Laulajainen, the Society's Director of Communications, said, "We are delighted to have been awarded Best of Show for this report in a major national competition. We would especially like to thank all the photographers and photo subjects for allowing us to share their personal cancer stories."

Cancer Connections photos also played a key part in an award from the Society for News Design. In the thirtieth edition of the organization’s annual creative competition, it presented an award of excellence to PhotoSensitive and the Toronto Star in the category of Feature Design Pages for the newspaper’s spread previewing Cancer Connections’ launch in Toronto.

The double page spread featured 17 photos from the launch show along with a write-up that was headlined, “Finding comfort and grace in photos”.

Andrew Stawicki, PhotoSensitive’s founding photographer, said, “We are obviously very happy to be a part of these awards. It is nice to see how our photographs and the people in them inspire others to create beautiful things. What we do is not just about getting donations and creating awareness, it is also about creating beautiful art.

“Awards like these take Cancer Connections beyond the exhibition – other media and industries, like print and design, get to benefit from our photographs and stories. The awards also help to extend awareness of what PhotoSensitive does in general and what we are doing with Cancer Connections in particular.” 

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