Courtesy of the HuffPost | 05.27.14 | Priscilla Frank

It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person has.”

This wisdom, originally attributed to Hippocrates who lived until 377 BC, rings true in the photography of Andrew George, whose project “Right Before I Die” is a striking meditation on life and loss. The Los Angeles-based artist captures humble yet heartbreaking portraits of everyday people in their final moments of life, forced to confront the daunting reality of death until it meets them head on.

Josefina
Josefina

hen the idea for this project came to me, the mother of a friend had recently passed away and at her memorial, I marveled at how there was so much genuine love for her,” George explained to The Huffington Post. “I began to wonder what it was about this woman that brought that out. She had this magic in the clear and wise way she spoke and never took herself too seriously. She laughed more than anyone I knew, reacted with sincerity and interest to her friends, and had so much passion in her fearless curiosity to travel and explore different cultures of the world. She was, quite simply, one of the best people I’ve known, yet, regrettably, was no one you’d ever learn about if you didn’t know her because her material accomplishments did not include fame.”

George became interested in those living with the knowledge of their impending deaths, those “unremarkable” people who for so long went unnoticed at bus stops, in markets, on the sidewalk. With a single diagnosis these everyday citizens become unacknowledged heroes, forced to fight with inconceivable strength as the body continues to weaken. “For all of them, it started much as it will start for you: a strangely persistent itch at the back of the head, a discomfort on the left side, a lump fingered in the shower. Something [that] became impossible to ignore,” Alain de Botton explains in a foreword for the project. Continue Reading