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‘From something horrible came a lot of good’ - Cancer leads Norwich man to become award-winning photographer

PUBLISHED: 06:30 20 April 2020 | UPDATED: 08:28 20 April 2020

Dibs McCallum with his daughter, Eliza. Picture: Dibs McCallum

Dibs McCallum with his daughter, Eliza. Picture: Dibs McCallum

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A Norwich man has become an award-winning photographer after doctors advised him to get a camera to capture memories during a cancer diagnosis.

Dibs McCallum enjoys taking pictures in Norfolk because of the county's diversity. Picture: Dibs McCallumDibs McCallum enjoys taking pictures in Norfolk because of the county's diversity. Picture: Dibs McCallum

Dibs McCallum, from Sprowston, was diagnosed with skin cancer at the age of just 28 ten years ago.

He had noticed a sore patch on his back after a shower and was urged to go to a GP by his pregnant fiancée who referred him immediately to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) for a biopsy.

After an operation at the NNUH just days after the birth of his daughter, doctors suggested buying a camera to capture memories of his family.

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Mr McCallum said: “It was pretty grim and I was told to get some nice photos in case of the worst situation because the prognosis wasn’t good.

Brograve Mill, a picture by Norwich based photographer Dibs McCallum who became an award-winning photographer. Picture: Dibs McCallumBrograve Mill, a picture by Norwich based photographer Dibs McCallum who became an award-winning photographer. Picture: Dibs McCallum

“The whole time was a blur and I can’t really remember it. I can remember cutting my daughter’s cord, but the rest of the time was like a film and I was shell-shocked.”

For the next two years, Mr McCallum felt ‘terrified’ as he learnt of multiple deaths from skin cancer from people in the community.

But he recovered and said ‘from something really horrible and tragic a lot of good came out of it.’

It spurred Mr McCallum, now 39, to make a career change and he started a job as a driver for Goldstar Taxis from 2010 to 2013.

Dibs McCallum turned to photography after a cancer diagnosis at 28. Picture: Dibs McCallumDibs McCallum turned to photography after a cancer diagnosis at 28. Picture: Dibs McCallum

MORE: Stunning images and video reflect Norfolk’s beauty during lockdown

He said: “People moan about turning 30 but for me that was when life began. It was a real turning point.”

He would drive his mini cab to other parts of the country to capture abandoned buildings with the camera he had purchased during his illness.

Soon, Mr McCallum developed a passion for photography and studied digital photography at Wensum Lodge before a degree in photography at Norwich University of the Arts, where he achieved a first.

After studying for a masters he launched a photography career, alongside a job at a software company in Norwich, and won the short film award at the historical photographer of the year award in 2019.

Zacks in Norwich pictured by Dibs McCallum who turned to photography in his 30s. Picture: Dibs McCallumZacks in Norwich pictured by Dibs McCallum who turned to photography in his 30s. Picture: Dibs McCallum

He now shoots places across the country, including the North Norfolk coastal path from Hopton-on-Sea to Hunstanton, which he did for charity.

Dibs McCallum enjoys photographing the Norfolk coast, pictured Overstrand. Picture: Dibs McCallumDibs McCallum enjoys photographing the Norfolk coast, pictured Overstrand. Picture: Dibs McCallum

Happisburgh taken in September 2019. Picture: Dibs McCallumHappisburgh taken in September 2019. Picture: Dibs McCallum

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