final exit?

Last week, I was sent to a western suburb of Chicago to photograph Kurt Perry (not his real name).

Perry, who suffers from Charcot-Marie-Tooth disorder, a common inherited neurological disorder that weakens muscles in the extremities, had decided in February to end his life.

Perry had been receiving emotional support from the right to die organization Final Exit. Final Exit volunteers are present but don’t participate in the “hastening of death” as they call it.

Perry had chosen February 26th as his last day but less than 24 hours earlier Georgia law enforcement officials stopped an assisted suicide and froze Final Exit’s assets.

Perry didn’t want to go it alone so he delayed his plans.

When I arrived for the shoot, I knew that I couldn’t use the name or town of residence of Kurt so I wasn’t sure if I could show his face either.

As it turned out I could. I pressed for documentary style but Kurt decided that he only wanted to do a portrait. 

I photographed Kurt inside a bit but then took him outside by a leafless tree. My favorite image of the morning was one where Kurt’s face was out of focus and the tree was in focus.

For other photos and the story go HERE on chicagotribune.com.

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4 Responses to “final exit?”

  1. oh wow… I read the text first, and because of my third world internet connection the picture didn’t load on the google reader. So intrigued I clicked through for a look at the photo. and caught my breath, oh my. so powerful in the context of the story… well done…

  2. I clicked the link to see the portrait you made and read more of the story…

    Although I’ve read other articles of this kind, I can never escape the collapsing feeling I’m left with after. Ah, how my heart hurts to see this man, not much older than me, and know he will most certainly die soon.

    I wish him love and peace.

    I think your photo above, while perhaps too abstract for the paper, is a striking image. The juxtaposition of the budding tree against his dark, out of focus face is stirring.

    Thanks for your work.

  3. […] a Comment » There was this Scott Strazzante picture from last March that stuck with me for a couple reasons. First, It’s […]

  4. i knew him he went by the user STK he was my best online friend when things went horribly wrong I miss him so much 😦 I loved him and he’ll always be in my heart xxxxxxxxxx

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