Stephen DiRado, professor at Clark University’s Department of Visual and Performing Arts, was featured on The Conversation US for his recently published book of photographs, “With Dad,” which documents his father’s journey with Alzheimer’s over 16 years.
After DiRado’s father, Gene, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1993, DiRado began photographing him and their family with a large-format, 8×10 camera. In The Conversation article, written by Arts and Culture Editor Nick Lehr, DiRado describes the agony, anxiety, and devotion he felt as he chronicled his father’s decline. For nearly two decades, DiRado lugged a 35-pound camera to his father’s home, the hospital, and eventually to a nursing home.
“With Dad” was published in November 2019.
While DiRado says his project was deeply self-serving, he also describes how he tried to cast aside privacy and vanity as he photographed his father’s experience. He hopes that his work will continue to serve a purpose a century from now.
“This is so 100 years from now, historians, doctors, kids, artists, whoever can look at these images,” DiRado told The Conversation. “And I hope by then, there is no more Alzheimer’s, that it will be like looking at leper colony photos.”
“With Dad” was the subject of a short film of the same name, produced and directed by Clark Screen Studies Professor Soren Sorensen. The film won a Gold Remi award in the Documentary Short Subject category from the 53rd WorldFest-Houston International Film & Video Festival, the oldest independent film and video contest in the world.
The Conversation US is part of a global network of independent, not-for-profit newsrooms that reach out to leading scholars across academia and work with them to share their knowledge with the public. Its articles are shared with news organizations across the country free of charge through a Creative Commons license, with a focus on media outlets that are severely under-resourced.