Jess Hurd

Photographer
Posts Tagged ‘National Union of Journalists’

Mad Dogs, Photographers & the Midday Sun

Photographer at the Marina Bay Sands SkyPark Infinity Pool, luxury 5* Hotel. Singapore. © Jess Hurd/reportdigital.co.uk Tel: 01789-262151/07831-121483   info@reportdigital.co.uk   NUJ recommended terms & conditions apply. Moral rights asserted under Copyright Designs & Patents Act 1988. Credit is required. No part of this photo to be stored, reproduced, manipulated or transmitted by any means without permission.

Photographer with sun protective gear at the Marina Bay Sands SkyPark Infinity Pool, luxury 5* Hotel. Singapore.
© Jess Hurd/reportdigital.co.uk

Press photographers amass a vast array of protective gear over the years. I am on my third helmet and forth gas mask. I have a kitchen cupboard devoted to safety kit; eye wash, water filtration, mosquito nets and glow sticks.

Equipment varies from job-to-job, meaning you never know when you might need a spare tampon to pack a bullet wound or some Vicks Vaporub to combat the stench of rotting bodies in an earthquake zone (thanks for that tip Mr. Upton).

I have completed Hostile Environment Training, Public Order and First Aid courses. I am good at risk assessments and having exit strategies. But nothing prepared me for what I faced last year – skin cancer.

After delaying my visit to the doctor because of other work/life traumas I was initially treated by my GP with a topical steroid cream for a skin fungus. When that failed to clear up my sore patches I was fast tracked for biopsies via the Dermatology Department at the Royal London Hospital.

I found myself in a waiting room surrounded by elderly people, dressings patched up their seeping wounds. I was pretty much half the age of most of the patients.

It was frankly quite a shock when I was told that the lesion on my chest was a Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC), not an aggressive cancer, but cancer non-the-less. Being diagnosed was surreal. You keep repeating it in your head, “I’ve got cancer”, not quite comprehending it. I was asked to strip down to my underwear to be examined and told that my proliferation of freckles on my back were also a tell-tale sign of sun damage.

I had a second lesion on my forehead, a premalignant actinic keratosis, whilst both were due to UV exposure only the BCC was cancerous. The patch on my forehead was sun related skin damage and only a marker of skin cancer risk and was successfully dispatched with a treatment echoing the Victorian era – scrapped and cauterised.

The chest BCC was treated with Photo Dynamic Therapy, a relatively new treatment using a chemical cream that sensitises the tumour cells which are then blasted with infrared light, thus preserving the integrity of the remaining healthy cells. This, I was reliably assured by my excellent consultant dermatologist Dr Catherine Harwood, created less scarring and a better cosmetic finish. Another plus point of this treatment was to be told that I have a high pain threshold, which in my job is always good to know.

Both treatments were successful and thanks to the NHS I have now been discharged. A tough year, but one which I felt compelled to share as a warning to my colleagues who work out in all weathers. The medical professionals that treated me said that I was very young to have skin cancer and the job I have done for the past 20 years undoubtably bears some responsibility. Much of our work as news-gatherers pit us against the elements, whether it involves standing around outside courts or covering street demonstrations – usually in midday heat, when the sun is most dangerous.

According to Cancer Research UK incidents of skin cancer are on the rise. Malignant melanoma is the most deadly form and more common with increasing age, although for young adults (aged 15-34) it is the second most common cancer. 37 people every day are diagnosed with melanoma, 90% surviving 10 or more years. The less aggressive, BCC is the most common form of skin cancer, but still relatively uncommon under the age of 40 but incidents are increasing.

I spoke to Professor Catherine Harwood about being ‘skin aware’:

“Most of the increase in skin cancer is due to excessive UV exposure – especially in people with fair, sun-sensitive skin types – and this exposure is fueled by natural UV (more travel abroad, more leisure time) and increasingly, artificial UV through sun bed use. In addition to sun protection, looking out for any new and changing skin lesions and reporting them early is very important” 

So from the generation that grew up with sun beds, this is a cautionary tale. Treat the sun with the respect it deserves. An effective pill to end sunburn has not yet arrived, so find shade wherever you can, liberally apply sunblock or cover up.

It appears mad dogs and photographers go out in the midday sun, but we don’t all have to be scarred by the experience.

© Jess Hurd 2015

Originally published here in The Journalist magazine.

 

Human Rights Lecture

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Redacted – excerpts from the Domestic Extremist Database

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Jess Hurd and Jason N. Parkinson with their work – ‘Redacted’ – We Could Not Agree, Q Park, Cavendish Square. London. © Tracey Moberly

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‘Redacted’ – a collaborative work by Jess Hurd and Jason N. Parkinson exhibited at We Could Not Agree, Q Park, Cavendish Square. London.

Redacted – excerpts from the Domestic Extremist Database

– a collaborative work by photojournalist Jess Hurd & her partner in crime, video-journalist Jason N. Parkinson shown publicly for the first time at the We Could Not Agree exhibition Q Park, Cavendish Square.

Jason Parkinson and Jess Hurd are well respected, professional, NUJ accredited journalists yet they find themselves sharing a police database with other, mostly unknowing UK citizens who have had information gathered on them in the interest of ‘national security’.

These include activists, journalists, comedians, politicians and other ‘subversives’.

This sinister, secret state surveillance has been going on a long time, but now we get the chance to examine our files, well the sections that the police allow us to look at – we suspect large swathes are redacted.

Often people say “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear”, but what if inaccurate, subjective, bias builds up a profile of you that is shared with other agencies, you are targeted whilst working, singled out, even blacklisted and assaulted.

This has happened and will continue to happen unless it is challenged.

Secret police, covert surveillance, secret courts, we are not creeping towards a police state, we have arrived.

© Jess Hurd/Jason N. Parkinson

Image with the kind permission of artist/curator Tracey Moberly

We Could Not Agree – Exhibition Invite

 

Next week sees the opening of We Could Not Agree

Myself and video journalist Jason N. Parkinson are exhibiting a piece called:

 REDACTED – excerpts from the Domestic Extremist Database – (UPDATE)

– a collaborative work of previously unseen content from our secret police files.

Please do come along!

Thanks to our fabulous friend, artist/photographer Tracey Moberly who is one of the shows curators.

 

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NUJ Strike Defends BBC Pensions

BBC journalists on strike in protest at planned changes to their pensions scheme. BBC Bush House, London.
© Jess Hurd/reportdigital.co.uk
Images available to licence from www.reportdigital.co.uk
See slideshow here