The Real ME: A Stock Photography Resource for the Media

Sasha submitted a new blog post:

The Real ME: A Stock Photography Resource for the Media

Sasha announces a new resource of appropriate photos for ME/CFS media stories ...


No! Not this beautifully groomed woman
with a mildly troublesome sore throat!

We’ve all seen them in the news stories about ME/CFS: the guy in a suit at the office, yawning; the beautiful woman sitting at her desk with her immaculate make-up and elegantly coiffed hair, hand to her head and looking slightly pained.

But do pictures that illustrate ME/CFS by showing office workers suggest that this level of function is as bad as this condition gets?

For years, patients have been up in arms about this issue, and #MEAction recently started a great campaign for patients to contribute their own photos to the cause.

However, coming up with photos isn’t easy, and it will take a long time to build a suitable pool.

But why is it so hard?

It all has to do with how the media tells stories. Let’s take a look at two health articles in the same UK national newspaper — the Daily Mail.

The first story is about a particular little boy, and all the photos of him have a real-world look which is due to their imperfect, cluttered settings and the not-great lighting and his natural expressions and poses.

The second is a story about a health issue affecting women in general, not a specific person. Note the beautiful women, flawless make-up, elegant clothes, lovely hair — sound familiar? — but also the production values: perfect composition, professional lighting, the total lack of background clutter.

It all says, ‘this is a photographic model in a staged setting, not a person who genuinely has this health problem.’ And it’s an absolutely standard approach by the media to general articles about health issues.


Yes! He’s lying in bed, he’s not in office clothes
and he looks exhausted. That’s more like it!

Unless an ME/CFS article is about a specific patient, that’s the kind of photo we’re going to need to provide: a professionally photographed, high-production-values shot that shows someone who is clearly a model, but who is giving an accurate portrayal of the disease.

That’s the only kind of photo that a media outlet is likely to use: and they’ll want it to be in stock photography libraries because they already subscribe to them and are confident about the licensing arrangements.

Our problem is that when a picture-desk editor types ‘chronic fatigue syndrome’ or ‘fatigue’ into a stock-photo searchbox, it produces the yawning office guys and the headache women.

So until someone produces some professional custom-shots or sorts those stock-library tags out, Phoenix Rising has produced a resource of links to suitable photographs from major picture agencies iStock and Shutterstock.

I hope that our charities who deal with the media will make journalists aware of it, and that they’ll alert their picture desks.

The days of yawning guy are surely numbered.

But meanwhile, have your say.

What do you think of the pictures we're suggesting? Can you suggest any additional ones in a professional stock library that would be appropriate?

Let us know!


Continue reading the Original Blog Post
 
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Comments

Yes, exactly. We need to present the severe reality of what ME can do. Show the world just how terrible this illness is. You don't see the severe when ME is at it's worst. In my severe years I would hold off going to the doctor until there was a bit of easing and even then as soon as I had arrived at the doctors I would ask the reception if they could put me in an examination room so that I could lie down. I could not hold myself up in a chair for long.

I am fortunate that I don't need an appointment at my doctors, I can just turn up and that has been perfect for me with an illness like this. It would have been hard trying to make an appointment and keeping it in those years.
Ah, the ever present drive to lie down. If I could just lie down...I dread appointments, they are too much.

When my husband worked at a hospital he could always recognize the ME/CFS patients waiting in Rheumatology by the look around their eyes and the way they couldn't sit up and were slumping or holding their heads in their hands and moving their heads around to ease their necks. I wonder if that would be a good picture, of someone who looks sick and is slumped in a doctor's chair.
 
ME eyes...know exactly what you mean. Have them today. Just took a selfie of me at my desk. I look haggard, like I barely got myself to work (all true) but beyond the disheveled look, hair pulled back, no make-up, I have those ME eyes. Ironically my eyes were always my best feature...I got so many compliments on my eyes throughout my life. They were my stand-out feature, from babyhood into adulthood. Now even on my best days it's ME eyes staring back at me in the mirror. ~Andielyn
 
Ah, the ever present drive to lie down. If I could just lie down...I dread appointments, they are too much.

When my husband worked at a hospital he could always recognize the ME/CFS patients waiting in Rheumatology by the look around their eyes and the way they couldn't sit up and were slumping or holding their heads in their hands and moving their heads around to ease their necks. I wonder if that would be a good picture, of someone who looks sick and is slumped in a doctor's chair.
ME patients do have a certain look, you can spot them when their symptoms are severe to moderate. I noticed recently in a photograph of myself that 'the look' wasn't there and I stared at the photo for longer than usual. Sometimes now I don't have it. I don't get the headaches and severe sinusitis like I used to but I have other symptoms now which are moderate to severe. The illness changes in different ways as many years pass.

Many years ago when trying to pick someone out in a crowd on TV who had ME, was easy. It was a well known person and I was able to find them because of the shuffle and slow turning head plus the eyes, wide open eyes hardly blinking. I could see she was concentrating on her balance in a crowd where there was motion all around her.

When my husband worked at a hospital he could always recognize the ME/CFS patients waiting in Rheumatology by the look around their eyes and the way they couldn't sit up and were slumping or holding their heads in their hands and moving their heads around to ease their necks. I wonder if that would be a good picture, of someone who looks sick and is slumped in a doctor's chair.
When Dr Kilmas came out our way I went along to listen to her and was only able to sit there for a half a hour. I was rubbing my neck and my forehead. I could feel my eyes losing focus and I was unable to concentrate on what was being said. I looked around to see if anyone else was struggling but in my immediate vision I couldn't see anyone else. I was so disappointed but it was impossible to sit there any longer.
 
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ME eyes...know exactly what you mean. Have them today. Just took a selfie of me at my desk. I look haggard, like I barely got myself to work (all true) but beyond the disheveled look, hair pulled back, no make-up, I have those ME eyes. Ironically my eyes were always my best feature...I got so many compliments on my eyes throughout my life. They were my stand-out feature, from babyhood into adulthood. Now even on my best days it's ME eyes staring back at me in the mirror. ~Andielyn
I look sick when I am severe too. It's only when my ME eases that I don't look sick.
 
ME eyes...know exactly what you mean. Have them today. Just took a selfie of me at my desk. I look haggard, like I barely got myself to work (all true) but beyond the disheveled look, hair pulled back, no make-up, I have those ME eyes. Ironically my eyes were always my best feature...I got so many compliments on my eyes throughout my life. They were my stand-out feature, from babyhood into adulthood. Now even on my best days it's ME eyes staring back at me in the mirror. ~Andielyn
Wow, I just remembered, me too. I forgot that I used to have nice eyes and got compliments! Now I always wear glasses which I like because it covers up how sick my eyes look! When my husband tells me I look nice (he's not just saying that, we have an honesty policy), I'm shocked because I just think I look bad now.

I can usually look at people and notice when they're sick. I noticed that nurses can do that too. When I visit people in the hospital the nurses stare and stare at me. Sometimes I'll say, "ME/CFS" or "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome" for educational purposes when they do that and so they can maybe get to recognize the look. If only the general public could...
 
The signs can be subtle, but a good friend with ME/CFS is able to tell instantly when I'm struggling. She said that my eyes have a waxy look and my face will be puffy and inflamed. Now that I've been spending more time with my family, my mother can also spot when I'm having a tough day.
 
I agree with most of this article, but this line bugged me: "If they’re so sick, how come they’re at the office? Why aren’t they crashed out at home, in their pyjamas?"

Some people with ME are still healthy enough to work. I don't think that means they're not sick. I wish our community would get over this "I'm sicker than you" holier-than-thou nonsense. It's the exact same thing the biopsychosocial crowd does -- telling patients that they're not really sick.
I understand what you mean Greeneagle, I worked & stayed in university two decades despite having M.E. The problem was that I was not living a life as well as doing those things. Showing me at work would give not clue how bad the diease and my life were at that time.

We need society to understand what its like for the worst of us in order to get that impetus to do something much more serious about it.

That;s my view for what it's worth.
 
I do up to a point. But even when bad, I look like somebody with a common cold. I never look the way I feel (at death's door) when really ill.
I think I was being overly optimistic about myself when I said that. I am glad you made me think about that more. I have had a few people (not relatives or friends) tell me they can tell I am sick.
 
A member who's currently unable to log in to the forums has very kindly sent me the following; I haven't time to check out all the links :eek: but it looks like a major contribution to the project...from what I know of this person, they're sure to be really good, and the comments and ideas are typically thoughtful too...

@Sasha
I don't know what ought to happen to incorporate these links into the resource, but if you need any help doing that, just let me know.

I have some photos for review, and wanted to mention on the objective statement, that it could be nice to include a mention of diverse photos (young people, different ethnicities, etc.) I tried to include some of what I noticed was missing (children, Asian people, etc.)

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/ill-woman-in-bed-gm535172279-57054300?st=6cf2504

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/young-woman-with-headscarf-gm525076153-51807328

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/yo...tting-on-hospital-window-gm479951284-68365091
(hopefully the cancer label isn't a problem, but I really liked the sitting at the window in a robe/dressing gown; while most of us have hair, some of us would cut it if we could, because too much work--and some of us do wear headscarves for this reason)

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/girl-lying-under-drip-gm504925128-83428473

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/mature-asian-man-in-the-hospital-gm184280364-16955117?st=c736ef0

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/reassuring-patient-gm500395290-80740633

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/di...-hospital-bed-gm510694318-86363867?st=1657ccf

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/sick-woman-gm174928518-21738323?st=1657ccf

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/the-patient-on-the-bed-gm492741394-76491095

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/kid-sleeping-in-hospital-bed-gm535239151-57073294

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/sick-little-girl-in-bed-gm503359772-82486209

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/sleeping-gm494389722-77416811?st=a7b05b8

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/child-in-hospital-bed-gm528588393-54138938?st=1ee74cc

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/sick-bed-woman-gm155915417-22002596?st=dd01d61

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/sick-woman-coughing-in-bed-gm183858996-16287364?st=dd01d61

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/un...en-nasal-tube-gm462697903-32849122?st=dd01d61

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/checking-temperature-gm114254230-9962107?st=dd01d61

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/oxygen-user-gm172169320-3301582

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/sick-woman-taking-medicine-gm174992836-22554946

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/sick-young-woman-sleeps-on-couch-gm177834074-24165694?st=7ea324a

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/sick-child-sleeping-gm157643977-14204079?st=d3fd69f

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/sick-girl-lying-in-bed-gm499266160-80124041?st=285a373

Also it might be nice to include some for research/clinical trials and health care/ treatments. They can pick an appropriate generic science photo depending on what the research is about.

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/bacteria-gm506759926-84349351?st=bfd390e

http://www.istockphoto.com/vector/health-care-icon-gm496915288-78824985?st=bfd390e

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/co...les-and-pills-gm497128766-78954907?st=bfd390e

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/macrophages-on-the-whhite-gm506351818-84055813?st=af3060c

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/sa...te-background-gm468981658-61073992?st=023e6fb

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/saline-bag-gm178086410-24882843?st=023e6fb

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/medical-bottle-and-syringe-gm163301787-23325614?st=023e6fb

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/white-blood-cell-gm185241117-19891682?st=c49127e

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/vascular-system-3d-rendered-illustration-gm466781656-59949462

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/ch...n-the-inflammatory-respo-gm500563928-80837461

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/lymphocytes-and-viruses-gm521399859-50280942?st=c49127e

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/pathogen-and-cells-gm491919260-76018429?st=c49127e

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/white-blood-cell-gm183045641-14359392?st=c49127e

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/white-blood-cell-gm183045641-14359392?st=c49127e

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/monocyte-gm176978105-26401036?st=c49127e

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/receptors-cells-gm488498423-39281392?st=c49127e

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/eosinophil-granulocyte-gm483453985-26401178?st=c49127e

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/basophil-gm487036466-73124153?st=c49127e

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/lymphocyte-gm483348659-26175714?st=c49127e

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/human-blood-gm490556513-39737470?st=c49127e

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/streaming-blood-gm117868474-8821148?st=c49127e

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/immune-cells-fighting-infection-gm156308767-22047429?st=c49127e

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/macrophage-virus-gm469816337-34386738?st=c49127e

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/dendritic-cell-gm511728014-86784637?st=7047ad3

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/virus-and-killercells-gm115964052-3511924?st=7047ad3

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/nerve-cells-gm479766094-68211887?st=dad0d76

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/nerve-cell-3d-biomedical-illustration-gm168619592-23841957

http://www.istockphoto.com/vector/glial-cells-gm531120055-55046996?st=8ed77d3

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/brain-depiction-gm471190297-34867656?st=8ed77d3

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/neurons-in-the-brain-gm477734916-66886037?st=f658db7

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/brain-cells-neurons-gm519588709-49566594?st=f658db7

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/brain-with-bloodvessels-x-ray-side-gm136191274-15341220?st=f658db7

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/brain-pain-gm488267996-74038225?st=f658db7

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/abstract-neural-network-gm163674549-23411348?st=f658db7

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/ne...brain-surgery-gm538240211-58141064?st=f658db7

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/3d...mers-research-gm492260886-76215957?st=212cf4e

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/neuroscience-concept-gm478302112-67206833?st=212cf4e

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/active-neuron-cells-synapse-network-gm174910020-21729689?st=7e020fb

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/lab-experiment-gm516422160-88989645?st=119ce8e

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/me...he-laboratory-gm511803326-86829419?st=119ce8e

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/drop-of-liquid-in-a-test-tube-gm174538202-26033928?st=119ce8e

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/biologist-gm504642564-83154013?st=119ce8e
 
A member who's currently unable to log in to the forums has very kindly sent me the following; I haven't time to check out all the links :eek: but it looks like a major contribution to the project...from what I know of this person, they're sure to be really good, and the comments and ideas are typically thoughtful too...

@Sasha
I don't know what ought to happen to incorporate these links into the resource, but if you need any help doing that, just let me know.
That's fantastic, and a lot of effort has gone into that. I won't be able to get around to this for quite a while as I'm short on time at the moment, but you can see how I've done these on the actual resource page, so if you'd like to add any in, be my guest!
 
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I've met a couple of people with "CFS": they look like they are wearing a mask to hide how they really are. Nobody wants to know that you're sick; and if they did, then they'd just take advantage of the situation. I have ME, and apparently I act antisocial & scowl. The best stock of how I feel would look something like: https://i1.rgstatic.net/ii/profile.image/AS%3A272976478208001%401442094072756_l/Simon_Wessely.png
or: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/multimedia/archive/00815/e9dc4c34-7b39-11e4-_815159c.jpg
or: https://i1.rgstatic.net/ii/profile.image/AS%3A272976478208001%401442094072756_l/Simon_Wessely.png
though a lot blurrier. Well, that would be me looking my best. I get a lot of fun therapy out of Simon. He has done much to promote the profile of ME & CFS; and whenever I think of CFS I think of Simon fondly.
 
A member who's currently unable to log in to the forums has very kindly sent me the following; I haven't time to check out all the links :eek: but it looks like a major contribution to the project...from what I know of this person, they're sure to be really good, and the comments and ideas are typically thoughtful too...
Thanks again for these (and to the member who suggested them). I've added many to the resource page (some I excluded, such as the ones with that seemed to clearly say "cancer" or "acute illness" or "surgery" or that had people getting interventions that I've never heard of with ME, such a nasal oxygen) but there were some great ones there, including the ones of kids.

:thumbsup:
 
@Sasha, I use nasal oxygen quite frequently, actually. Many PWME do.
 
@Sasha, I use nasal oxygen quite frequently, actually. Many PWME do.
That's interesting - I wonder if that's a US thing? I've honestly never heard of it.

One thing I wanted to avoid with the photos was looking like the photo is illustrating a different disease, and I was worried that the nasal oxygen would do that (one reason that I generally avoided photos of the elderly, because although the elderly do have ME, when people see someone elderly in bed or a wheelchair I think they're likely to think of general diseases of ageing).
 
Canada's Action CIND has a similar project if anyone wants to contribute photos. It started as a May12th project some time ago just didn't have resources to get it going. You can contact them at info@actioncind.org.
 
I don't know of any pictures to suggest, but I think of images from my own past, that I now wish could have been photographed. Getting the reality of this disease across in hard hitting images is what would make a difference, for sure. I think of the times I was too weak to get out of bed and tend to my toddler; this brings to mind a picture of a woman lying on her bed, exhausted, with a toddler seated next to her bright eyed, toys scattered across the bed. Perhaps one of the woman's hands rests lovingly on the child, as if to say I wish I could get up and play with you...Or a picture of someone in the background, leaning against a doorway, clearly exhausted, and in the foreground a table piled with dirty dishes or maybe half folded laundry. Things like this paint a more accurate picture, in my humble opinion.