CureBlindness | Christopher Briscoe
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Christopher Briscoe

profiles | Jan 30, 2020

During a recent three-week trip to Ethiopia with HCP surgical teams, Briscoe took a minimal approach, using as little camera gear as possible to help the subjects he photographed feel more comfortable.

While traveling with HCP, Briscoe was able to capture thousands of images and numerous stories of the people we serve. He went above and beyond simply snapping views of the surgical outreach events. He went to villages to meet the people HCP helps and to get a glimpse of how their lives are improved by having their sight restored.

“My task as a photographer with HCP has been deeply rewarding; shooting in the operating room, then doing post-op portraits and interviews - oftentimes in the patient’s mud and straw hut, sitting on a dirt floor with children and chickens,” Briscoe said. “I am always shocked to see how a 10-minute surgical procedure can completely change a life.”

When he’s not working with HCP, Briscoe brings his talents as author and photojournalist to the forefront in his remarkable books. His books evoke an intimacy that takes us inside the hearts of those he meets. Briscoe’s photographs have been published around the world in The London Times, People Magazine, Time Magazine, and Paris Match. His work has also been featured on Entertainment Tonight, Larry King Live, and Oprah.

Briscoe’s work uncovers the common thread that binds us all — from a visit to Death Row, to Bourbon Street, and through the alleyways of Bangkok. His photos dig deep to unearth the vital story behind each face and landscape. He has photographed cultural icons from the likes of President Mikhail Gorbachev to producer-director Steven Spielberg, actor Michael Douglas, and many others.

“Christopher’s photographs not only capture the work that HCP does and the joy of sight restoration, but also gets at the human experience for the people living in the areas in which we work,” said HCP Board Member Matt Oliva, who worked with Briscoe in Ethiopia. “His photographs go beyond telling the story of the surgical experience, and his skills as a storyteller give us a glimpse into the lives of the people he photographs. With Christopher’s help we have a deeper understanding of the impact of our work and the lives that have been changed. We take with us not just numbers of people cured but stories of real people and communities changed for the better.”

Here are a few of the stories Briscoe captured while working with HCP in Ethiopia:

"I started losing my sight 13 years ago when I was in first grade. I used to sit on the first bench so I could be close to the blackboard. I had to get as close as I could to it so I could copy the important teacher’s notes, and it wasn’t always possible, so I used to collect notebooks from my friends to copy later at home.

"When my bandages were removed today I was shocked. I was seeing for the first time with both eyes, I couldn’t believe it! Thinking back on all of the challenges I had faced, this is so amazing. Now I am feeling so good about myself, I want to study even harder. Now, I can go back to my dream of being a nurse! I live with my sister, Yenatfenta and I can finally see her red hat’s bright colors!"

A father stands outside closed hospital doors. Whenever they open, pushing against a pile of soiled gowns strewn on the worn linoleum floor, he peeks inside and peers down the long, crowded hallway, searching for his son. His little boy sits in an endless line of cataract patients, all bearing a handwritten I.D. number taped to their foreheads. They are waiting for their turn on the operating table, already wearing blue medical gowns with dark plastic bags wrapped around their feet. Read more

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