“From my earliest years through to today, I have always thought in images,” says Bill Aron, photographer and author of New Beginnings: The Triumphs of 120 Cancer Survivors which highlights the indestructible spirit of cancer survivors of all ages.
His love of photography was sparked as a 10 year old while on vacation with his mom in Atlantic City. Being a typical sneaky and curious young boy, Bill snuck off to Steel Pier, a carnival-like atmosphere. He approached the large roulette wheel and plucked down a nickel on the number 48.
The attendant immediately reached for what was obviously the most sought after prize, a large stuffed teddy bear. Bill stared at the man, shook his head, and said, “no, not that” as he pointed to the Brownie Hawkeye camera package. There he stood first camera in hand, a camera that he has kept all these years. and he’s kept it all these years.
Bill has devoted his professional life to photographing Jewish communities from the bustling shops and synagogues of New York City’s Lower East Side to the dwindling, yet strong Jewish community of Havana to the again activists Jews of Venice, CA to the innovative member of New York’s Havurah movement, from Jerusalem to Moscow and the Mississippi delta to the city of New Orleans, and from Holocaust survivors to cancer survivors.
It was during Bill’s treatment for his second cancer diagnosis that he decided that he wanted to produce the kind of book he wished had existed when he was first diagnosed, a book that told enough stories of survivors that he could surely identify with at least one, and preferably more individuals facing similar circumstances. He wanted to produce a book with enough hope that even he, a cynic at heart, would find inspiration.
This project was no minor undertaking as Bill spent anywhere from 1-2 & 1/2 hours with each survivor followed by identifying the starting point for the photography which is a reflection of each survivor’s perspective on how to best capture their thoughts and feeling about what they went through.
The personal impact of each and every survivor featured is immeasurable. Bill says that he has learned not only how to survive, but also the importance of finding purpose amidst the trials and of making his life mean something.
It is Bill’s utmost desire that each person who experience his book will walk away inspired to make the most of their lives: doing, creating, loving, and helping. To Bill, that is the essence and meaning of life.