Archive for the ‘elderly’ Category

I traveled across the U.S. last month to a photo shoot in Washington D.C. (drove so I could bring a full studio to the conference) and on the way back, I photographed my partners’ Mother and brother at breakfast during a stop in Cincinnati.

When I sent them the photographs, her Mother said…well, I’ll let you read what she said:

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Mirrors lie.  Every day.  All we’ve ever seen of ourselves is a misrepresentation–our hair is parted on the wrong side, we look exactly opposite how we really look. 

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Because it’s a mirror image.  Our face is flipped.

And so, our perception is that we look odd when we see ourselves in photos.  Ever notice our friends look okay, because we’re seeing them the way we always see them, but we always look wrong somehow?

Because the camera sees us right, not flipped.

It’s a simple thing to flip the image so that the person sees their photo as they’re used to seeing themselves.  To make it so they like their photo better.

But the bigger lie is that a face, as it ages, needs to be retouched.  Needs to be Photoshopped.  It doesn’t.

It goes for you and me–“You’re better as you are than you think.”

I just finished a big shoot for The Wise Photo Project, a national project where I photograph seniors at senior centers–the elderly wise ones, not the newly graduated.  I photographed over 60 people.  Beautifully aged faces and there’s not a wrinkle I would change.

A couple portrait from a 2017 photo shoot at a senior center in Boulder.

The photographs capture their amazing faces as they are.  They are truly beautiful as they are.

Tell yourself, you’re better as you are than you think.  You really are.

There’s a couple next to me at the bar where I’m sitting–I’m writing at Ted’s Montana Grill in Boulder.  The guy is eating his dinner in silence because his spouse is on her phone. Occasionally he picks his up, too, because he looks bored. But for the most part, he eats alone, one bite of his steak at a time. They are doing things as everyone else, and maintaining the status quo.  Nothing wrong with that, they are like everyone else, consumed by news of someone else rather than the one they’re with.

It reminds me of a podcast by Seth Godin I listened to today about marketing new ideas to people–people who would rather maintain the status quo.  Because people really don’t like change.  It could get better but it could also get worse.  Better to not choose, risk it, and just leave it alone.

So, the woman stares at her phone between bites of her burger.  And the guy eats alone.  Again, nothing wrong–it’s what everyone else is doing.

But jump forward to 2038.  Twenty years.  Then when they’re 20 years older and all that time has passed, will they be glad they spent those dinners in silence? Consumed by the news of the day, other people’s, perhaps friends, maybe just acquaintances.   Time keeps moving, and in this moment, it’s easy to see it as never-ending.  Plenty of time to waste.

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain.
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.
  ~Pink Floyd, “Time”

Seth Godin talks about sticking to your plan if you have a product or service you believe in, especially if it challenges the status quo.  He says we are in a different world, one where niche-marketing is the new paradigm.  And there are people who are willing to take that risk and try something new.  That’s our audience.

So, that’s where I am with my photography projects, like The Wise Photo Project, where I photograph older family members, often on film.  I’ve recently started offering the photo sessions and photographs for free at senior centers, because it is that impossible to get people to deviate from the status quo: “We never shoot family photos anymore, and nobody we know does, so oh well.  We have phone pics.”
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My Mother, printed and with me in my home.

But I see it differently.  We don’t live forever, and high-quality studio portraits aren’t just for celebrities and to illustrate magazine articles.  They’re family history.  They’re vitally important.  I live with photos of my Mother and Father in my house, on the wall next to me.  My Mother is no longer here, but it’s not a low-resolution phone snap on my computer that I get to have and live with to remember her, but a real portrait that I made, printed and framed–a real photograph.
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I photograph older people because they matter, they’re a big deal, and no one treats them like a big deal.  And no one else is photographing them, so if I don’t, the photographs won’t exist. Made on a 4″x5″ negative.  I brought a print to him for his family.

We have come so far and advanced so much technologically, and somehow art has become “convenience first,” which I don’t quite understand.  Quality can be sub-par, but if it’s easy, we seem to accept that.

I don’t.  Simple as that.
Who said art has to be easy, or that easy art is the best art?

Because Grandpa can look amazing if we add a little quality, and make his portrait with something better than the phone in our pockets.  And 20 years from now, when he’s long gone but we still have that beautiful portrait to remember him by, we will be glad we didn’t worry about maintaining the status quo.

It takes vision.  Just like it takes vision to put the phone down and talk to your spouse at dinner.

I have a project titled, The Wise Photo Project, where I photograph elderly people on film, because they often have very few photographs taken of them.  Here are my parents, my Dad giving my Mom a kiss as she lies in a hospital bed in the living room of his house.  This is why I photograph the wise!  They won’t be here forever, and they are beautiful in their old age.

I can photograph your elderly relatives too, I work throughout the U.S., and create legacy prints for your family, photographs your grandkids will cherish as they get to know their grandparents from way back in 2016.
 
TheWisePhotoProject.com – 720.982.9237

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This is why I shoot Elderly Photo Visits.  It gives me the chance to preserve memories that will last long after our parents and grandparents are gone.  And will be cherished by generations to come.

I printed this photo and gave it to several family members in frames I picked up at Goodwill (50% off sale today, yay), because without printing our photos, they really don’t exist.  So, print your photos.  Frame them and live with the memories in your home.

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As a photographer, there’s nothing else that matters, no one else who gets to decide what is important, other than that which is important to you.  Photography is a creative expression, and when we stop looking to create images that will please others, and actually create images that please ourselves, that reveal a little something about how we see the world, only then is the art realized, and we give the viewer a glimpse into our soul.

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I can tell you, as a filmmaker, how many Tarantino wannabees I see out there.  We don’t need another one of him–we have him.  (And one of him is too much for me–I think he’s ultra-violent and sits on that one note too long.)

But as photographers, what we need is to show a side of ourselves that reveals our truth.  Then, we have created art.  Dare to show something that reveals you.

It’s easy to say what you don’t like.

I hate this, I hate that.  You didn’t tell us anything about you.

I like that. 

You like that–what are you a freak, liking that?  Saying what you like tells us a bit about you.

So does what you photograph.

So, photograph your passion.  Stand by what are your favorite images, because they define you, and after we are all long gone, they will be what survive to tell the story of who we were.

Mine is the story of connections in families.  That’s my passion–to document the small stories that make up great lives.

See http://ElderlyPhotoVisits.com and http://TheWisePhotoProject.com for more.

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