As a kid, Nancy Borowick was fascinated with other people’s lives. While most children were absorbed in their own bounded worlds, she was looking outward; watching, asking questions.
“I always loved getting to know people,” the 33-year-old American told Mamamia. “You know and when kids are young and their parents say ‘Don’t talk to strangers’, I was that child talking to strangers. I couldn’t stop myself. I was so curious.”
Photography was a natural extension of that curiosity, a legitimised way to invite herself into the homes and lives of people she barely knew.
But in 2013 she found herself turning her camera on those she knew most deeply – her parents. Howie and Laurel had both been diagnosed with stage four terminal cancer. The pancreatic cancer was a first for her father, but it was the third occurrence of her mother’s breast cancer.
Married 34 years, suddenly their future was confined to months.
With her camera, Nancy immortalised what she could.
"I couldn't heal them - I have no medical expertise. But maybe I could document their story," she said. "And I think, in many ways, I also was desperately trying to hold onto everything I could. I knew I was losing them. And if I could capture them, if I could capture the essence of who they were, [then] I could hold on to that forever."
The result, currently on display as part of Sydney's Head on Photo Festival, earned her second place in the long-term projects category at the prestigious World Press photo awards in 2016.
One of the first images Nancy took for the series was this: