Thursday, August 12, 2010

This is the Start of Something New

Although I have wanted to make it a goal to post to my blog more frequently, at least once per week, I haven't lived up to this goal for the past couple of months. I could throw out a lot of excuses as to why this hasn't been the case, but the reality is that I just haven't made my blog a priority. Along with many well-intentioned blog writers, I plan to work on making this change. My blog will continue to be focused on my work as a photographer along with a few related (and maybe unrelated) posts along the way.

Even though the majority of my work has been in portraiture, I haven't really dealt with portraits since my suicide survivors series, The Last Best Place: Suicide in Montana, in the Fall of 2009. Sure, I've made some portraits here and there, but honestly, I wanted a break after the arduous task of photographing and interviewing those who have lost a loved one to suicide. So, during some of my travels this summer, I photographed my only remaining grandparent. I have actually been planning to do this for about a year. I ended up not getting as many portraits as I wanted, but I like to think of it as the start to a long-term project.

I don't see my grandmother very often for a variety of reasons. In
fact, it had been a year and a half since I last saw her when I made the following portraits of her a few weeks ago. The last time I saw her at this location, at her home in Kentucky, was when I visited for my only grandfather's funeral. Unfortunately, it had been seven years since I had seen him. That is something I have to live with for the rest of my life. I won't go into the reasons, but no matter what the reasons were, I should have visited.

So...moving on to a more positive note...I decided last year that I would make more of an effort to see my grandmother when I can. Living over 2000 miles away doesn't make this an easy task, but my parents live within three hours from her house so that will make it easier to visit her when I visit my mom & dad. That's exactly what I did on this rare summer trip "home" to spend some time with my parents.

My grandmother will be 89 at the end of this month and let me tell you, she is PROUD of that! There's nothing wrong with being proud of your age. Honestly, I think she feels like she looks mighty good for her age. I think so, too. When the weather is ok (not extremely hot or cold), she walks up to four miles per day. This is something she's done for as long as I can remember. She doesn't take any medication and from what I know, she is a very healthy woman. She lives by herself and still gets out in the yard to pull weeds or work in the flower beds (which sometimes causes her to get stung by bees - exactly what happened the day before I saw her). She probably pushes beyond her limits, but she is a strong woman. I know she must have passed on her love for keeping busy and staying active to my mom who in turn passed that very same trait to my sister and I.

So, this is my Mamaw:

I didn't ask her for outfit changes or variations in her location
. I didn't direct her very much but just photographed the look she was willing to give me. Even though I had already planned to photograph her, this "session" materialized very naturally after my mom and I were looking through old family photographs. I simply asked her to sit in the chair nearest the window because I loved the diffused light coming through the sheer curtains.

I also couldn't pass up the opportunity to make a quick photograph of three generations. This is me with my mom & Mamaw:

So this is a start of something new. A renewed commitment to my work and to sharing it here on my blog, and a commitment to initiate more contact with my only remaining grandparent. Since I never knew my father's parents, it seems all the more important to me, even at this late date, to make a better attempt to stay connected with my grandmother.

If you've read through this whole post...thank you for sticking with it! Would you become a follower of my blog, or at least check back often, and let me know what you think of my work and my words? Also, if you're lucky enough to still have grandparents, visit them as soon as you can.

And on a totally non-photographic end note...when was the last time you visited someone who really needed to see you?

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