Just over a month ago I made a flying visit to the beautiful city of Rotterdam. I was travelling light and for one crazy second even considered leaving my camera at home entirely – concentrating on staying light as I knew we’d be carrying our luggage most of the weekend. “Maybe my new iPhone XS would do?” I thought. Common sense prevailed of course, and I sacrificed my luggage entirely, choosing instead to cram the absolute minimum clothing into my camera bag as opposed to the other way round.
The second we stepped off the bus into the city I realised I’d made the right decision. Despite knowing I wasn’t going to have the luxury of walking around shooting all weekend I’d have hated to have been without my camera. As a bustling port city that was almost entirely wiped out in the Second World War, Rotterdam has been rebuilt and reborn as a vibrant, dynamic and visually engaging city with incredible architecture everywhere you look.
Immediately we were hit with the imposing skyline of the Centraal Station whose aggressive angles literally points new visitors to the city centre. Our first stop was the Euromast – a 100 metre high observation tower with a revolving lift taking you up to 185 metres and a 360 degree view of the unique skyline.
A personal highlight for me was the incredible Kijk-Kubus or Cube Houses. Designed by architect Piet Blom these are part of the Blaakse Bos development which borders on the Laurenskwartier district and the Waterfront area. The architect wanted to design a kind of village within the city and saw the houses as trees and the whole development area as a wood. ‘Blaakse Bos’ in Dutch means Blaakse Wood. The Cube Houses are tipped to one side, making three sides face the ground and three face the sky. They’re unlike anything I’ve ever seen before and a photographer’s delight as every direction you look there are insane angles and mind-bending views.
Just over the road from the Cube Houses we found De Markthal – an incredible combination of colourful indoor market and luxury housing. The apartments drape over the stalls below in a horseshoe configuration and their windows are completely engulfed by a massive artwork sprawling across the ceiling: the ‘Horn of Plenty’ by Arno Coenen and Iris Roskam. Thanks to this grand span of art, the Markthal has been referred to as the Dutch version of the Sistine Chapel. It really is quite something and you could lose yourself for hours inside (and we did).
It’s a city of hidden gems, whether it be street art or beautiful little discoveries like De Luchtsingel – a 390-metre-long wooden pedestrian bridge in the city centre linking the Schieblock, a creative meeting place, with Station Hofplein, the former station building that is now home to a number of restaurants, shops and a jazz club.
Available now – 47 / A Life With Cystic Fibrosis: New photography book explores the reality of living with cystic fibrosis.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) affects more than 10,400 people in the UK, but the daily challenges faced by those with the condition remain relatively unknown. 47 / A Life With Cystic Fibrosis is a new photography book which aims to change that.
People with cystic fibrosis experience a build-up of thick sticky mucus in the lungs, digestive system and other organs, causing a wide range of challenging symptoms affecting the entire body. It’s a life-limiting condition and the median predicted survival rate is just 47 years old. There’s currently no cure.
The book presents a series of stunning portraits exploring the realities of living with CF and each subject’s attitude to life and their condition up to and beyond the age of 47. People with CF struggle with a wide range of symptoms from persistent coughing, chronic lung infections and CF-related diabetes to isolation due to risk of cross infection and double lung transplants. An average day contains a complex mix of medications and physiotherapy and lengthy hospital stays are commonplace.
“With this book I’ve tried to capture these personalities and my hope is that as a collective body of work, it gives an insight into the reality of living with this condition. As a dad of a 2 year old who was diagnosed with CF at 3 weeks, this project is something I’m incredibly passionate about. What I’ve learned is that while CF is unforgiving, relentless and unbelievably cruel it also creates strength, resilience, defiance and an appreciation of life that many of us can only ever hope to find.”
– Simon Wiffen
“Simon’s intimate portraits give a unique insight into the lives of some of the 10,400 people in the UK living with cystic fibrosis (CF). This book beautifully captures multiple voices and reveals the reality of living with a condition that shortens life. Although there is no cure for CF, advances in research are helping people to live longer. However, as these stories attest, CF remains a daily challenge.”
– Anne Shinkwin, Director of Fundraising at The Cystic Fibrosis Trust
The book features portraits of 47 people from across the UK, ranging in age from 4 to 61 years old as well as an ‘In memory’ section which remembers a tiny fraction of the many people who die each year as a result of CF. One of the subjects in the book sadly passed away just weeks after having his picture taken and before the book was published.
The book is available to purchase for £20, with £5 of the sale price being donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust to support the work they do every day to support those affected by CF and to help work towards a cure.
To read reviews and purchase a copy of the book please visit – https://www.simonwiffenphotography.co.uk/47-a-life-with-cystic-fibrosis/
The Kickstarter campaign for my upcoming book ’47 / A Life With Cystic Fibrosis’ has now ended and I’ve been absolutely blown away by the response. A huge thank you to everyone who helped to make this happen.
If you’re a backer you’ll receive an email in the next couple of weeks asking for a bit more information so I can fulfil your pledge. If you didn’t pledge there will be an opportunity to get your hands on a copy of the book – I’ll announce details of that in the coming weeks.
You can read more about the ’47 / A Life With Cystic Fibrosis’ book project or you can check out the Kickstarter page to see more about how the target was met (and see regular updates).
I can’t wait to share this with you. Thank you again to everyone for their support.