Looking frail in a wheelchair and breathing with the aid of an oxygen tank, photographer Alan Lee grasps the camera that he used to take pictures of his fellow patients at a Singapore hospice.
The 69-year-old former photojournalist suffers from end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a progressive respiratory disease that causes breathing difficulties. Lee knows he is going to die — but that has not stopped him pursuing his passion for photography.
He took black and white pictures of other patients at the Assisi Hospice and put 19 of them on display in an exhibition. Titled Come Walk With Me, the photos depict his fellow patients interacting with caregivers and volunteers or engaged in activities like arts and crafts, mahjong or music. The final selected few were whittled down from 100 photos that Lee took over the course of a month.
The exhibition ended last month, but Assisi Hospice has since published them on their Facebook page.
Lee said he wanted to send a message that there is no reason to give up on life even in your dying days.
“I didn’t come here to die. I still want to take pictures, there is no reason for me to stop taking pictures,” said Lee, dressed in a hospital gown, speaking softly and haltingly.
“People come with the mindset that when you go to a hospice, you’re going to die. And I wanted to change that. The only way I can do it is through my pictures,” he said.
Lee used to work for magazines in the city-state and in his younger days covered major news events in Southeast Asia.
He is facing the inevitable with calm.
“There’s no point being afraid… If you’re afraid to die, you’re a sad man,” said the divorced father of two sons.
He added that he hoped people would remember him as “a crazy old man”.
Additional reporting by Coconuts Singapore