Bob Carey started taking pictures to make his wife laugh during her treatment for breast cancer. Now, he’s making millions more feel the same way with his photos.
NEW YORK – When Bob Carey’s wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, he did something unusual: He took a bunch of photos of himself wearing just a pink tutu.
There he was, a burly, hairy man balancing on the edge of Hessian Lake in Bear Mountain State Park, contemplating the fall colors in Harriman State Park, hanging onto the side of the Kensico Dam in Valhalla.
Always in just his pink tutu.
It was a little escapism, Carey acknowledges, but the photographs had a purpose: they made his wife, Linda, and her fellow cancer patients laugh during treatments.
But why a tutu?
“This is the kind of guy he is. He is an artist. He takes care of things through his art,” says Linda Carey, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003. “During my treatment, anything he could take to make me laugh was worth it.”
“The images were a little humorous and maybe a little reflective of what they were going through,” says Bob Carey of the photos that Linda’s fellow patients soon began sharing.
In the 14 years since he began shooting his tutu photos, Bob and his pink companion — he is on his fifth one — have evolved into a global phenomenon called The Tutu Project.
The Careys have published a book of photographs called “Ballerina,” and four tutu calendars. With the net proceeds, the couple created the Tutu Project, a breast cancer nonprofit that raises funds for women, men and their families to ease the financial burdens that come with breast cancer diagnoses.
The original inspiration came from Bob’s sense of isolation after a move from Arizona to Brooklyn.
“I started making these photographs in Coney Island, in my tutu, just being vulnerable in a big and little bit scary place,” says Bob, a professional photographer who does commercial and…