It’s Been A While

It’s been some time since I have updated my blog. In fact, it’s been nearly ten months. There is a reason for this, actually two reasons. The first one is that over all, I haven’t had much to say. I’m not an exciting person and don’t have enough in my life to write about and for the most part, I keep this blog as a small extension of my photography. The second reason is that if you have read the post before this one you know that at that time I had taken on the task of being my grandmothers caregiver as she was suffering from Alzheimer’s. Since that post, things have happened and there have been issues. If you care to know about them, I will summarize them below as an update to this blog.

 

My grandmother moved in with myself and my family at the beginning of October 2015 and at the end of November that same year I made my last post on this blog until now. At the time I said I had a singular subject to photograph in her and would stick to mostly the good moments of what I capture until I feel to do otherwise. Well, soon came that otherwise moment as she began to slip away more and more. I documented this through photographs and even a few videos. They were raw and graphic. I won’t say they weren’t upsetting as I know they were. My family and I lived it every single day and I decided that presenting this information in its rawest form to others would help bring to light what Alzheimer’s truly is. I mean I thought I knew but then I got a real hard lesson. I found others and others found me and we shared these experiences together. Even with sharing them only those that live it can understand what really goes on. We found support in each other. Sadly, support from some of my family members wasn’t all there.

 

Like I said, these images and even a few videos were raw and really cut to what Alzheimer’s is and even then they weren’t the full picture. Try being alone with a family member and having to clean and dress them because they messed themselves. Now you have to clean them all while they cry and scream. You later find certain bio matter on yourself that you have to clean off as well. It’s a very hard experience. That’s just one example but there is so much more of the things that go on. While bringing to light some of these things like the uncontrolled crying that comes from nowhere I had some family members not care to see what I was sharing and detested that I was doing so in an open way. I did have others that were supportive but even more that weren’t. Things were being said and no one was talking to me directly. The one’s that did were two uncles of which one called me to verbally jump and bash me while another got pretty colorful with his words and actions though we were able to talked things out. Never the less, there were others who just as easily could have talked to me as we try to resolve the issue but that never came about. The end result is that I went back to having not much family communication as I have for years and that’s fine. At the same time I built better bonds with others who while saw the images as hard to take in, they understood my reasoning.

 

All of this has left me with a bigger drive though. A drive to live in this world and do more to help others and causes I believe in. If I can do it through my photography then that’s even better. I am not in a position to be one to go out and capture certain things to raise awareness at this time. The Alzheimer’s thing I did have the ability to because I lived with it every single day along with my wife, my father and my mother. I hope my images were able to do something in this world. Maybe help another dealing with Alzheimer’s in their family or others to understand that’s its more than just one losing their memories. Believe me, it’s so much more than that.

 

In June, my grandmother passed away. It was sad but a good thing. Truthfully, there was a part of me that was happy. No amount of description can paint the picture of life at the end of Alzheimer’s and the damage it does. I took no photographs at this time with the last one being of her sleeping. I then took one video to show a strange sound she would make all day. That video showed and recorded the last sounds she made during her mortal life before she went silent. Still alive but totally silent as she slipped away. So yeah, I was happy for her when she died. The woman lived a life of travel. She was also very opinionated and into her golden years could hold quite the conversation about life and the world around her. Alzheimer’s took that away. I’m not religious, I’m not spiritual, I’m not really anything. Though, if there is something, I like to think she is back to the woman I knew growing up with everything that Alzheimer’s took from her restored.

 

So yeah, it’s been a long while since I’ve made an update to this blog. I don’t know when the next one will be. Again, I’m pretty boring. But you can follow me on social media. We can follow each other. If you like, check out my Instagram and go back a little ways and see some of what I documented with my grandmother because while there is raw material that is quite sad, there is also some really great stuff in there too. Stuff I will keep as fond memories for as long as I can.

 

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Photographing A Singular Subject

I’ve never been one to photograph a subject matter or do a project. I just always shot things that I saw in front of me and wanted to capture. Sometimes just to capture it and others time to see it how the camera sees it as it has a way of bringing things out if a different way. Recently though I’ve found myself not only shooting a subject and in a way, kind of documenting it but I’m also living with it.

Some time ago my grandmother moved in and she has Alzheimer’s and dementia. I spent a lot of time preparing for her moving in where I read all sorts of information and watched all sorts of videos as I was to become her primary caregiver during the day time hours. I quickly found that all that learning, while a help, is nothing like getting the experience firsthand but the same could be said for most everything in this world.

Now I knew I would take photographs of her while here. I figured it would be something to share with other family members so they could see her living life and would be a nice way to keep up with what was going on other than just through phone calls. It quickly turned into me documenting her life and while not in full detail it’s been more than I expected. So much so that for the first time in the years I have been taking pictures I can honestly say I have a project or a subject matter. I try not to think of it that way as somehow I feel it a bit disrespectful being my grandmother and all but sometimes things are what they are.

At this point I’m no advocate for Alzheimer’s and dementia as my images have been of peaceful times. The truth of the matter is, this lifestyle of being a caregiver to one with a mind not at 100% working ability is a tough one. It’s mentally and physically exhausting. I never thought I would have to clean up things from my own grandmother that require me wearing gloves or even having to bath her because of an accident while she cries and begs me to not look. It really kills you inside. My images show none of this or any other moments of struggle and hardship and right now, I don’t care for them to. At this point in time what I document and what I share will be of good things and only share something not so good if it’s really worth doing so as part of the narrative and even then I’m not really documenting this all to the best it could be done. As such if you wish to follow along you can find some of my images posted on my Flickr gallery while I post more and random stuff through my recently activated Instagram account.

Links for both can be found here…
www.DecayStudio.com

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Getting Pretty Sad Out There

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I have to honestly say that it’s getting pretty sad out there in the world of photography. It seems anymore the moment a person gets a DSLR, discovers depth of field and picks up some software with wicked cool effects they’re suddenly a photographer, a PROFESSIONAL photographer. Even worse the next move they make is opening a photography business because you know, now that they have this artistic ability might as well cash in on in right?

Now the so-called business has to have a name. Nothing original or artistic, just simple and unimaginative. Always the same format it goes as such, *insert name* and then add the word “Photography” at the end. Make sure people know what you’re all about because photography is your business.

I could go on but it’s sad really. I see so many of these things popping up and it’s all about the money and I feel bad. I feel bad for the world of photography and I feel bad for the poor saps who are conned into paying many of these people good money for less than stellar work.

I’d like to see more people get to shooting just because. No real reason, it’s just something they enjoy doing. I’d like to see more simple shots where more thought was put into it than time sitting in front a computer working on post. I’d like to see just pure imagery created and not made because money was its driving force.

Print Calibrations

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So at some time or another one will want to print their photographs and for many a simple print from most anywhere will do. Heck even my wife has had a few of my photographs made into a print from a family event and sent them out to others for their scrap books. Printed from Walmart they came out fine and if I had to be perfectly honest better than expected but if I want the best print I can get I go with another more professional printing service. I don’t care who you choose to make your prints there will be an issue of what you see on your screen and what you see from the physical item.

Now printing is important because you want others to see what you see and while technology helps us share more of our work more easily a print lets others see it the way it was meant to be seen. I say this because everything that displays a digital image will always show whats on its screen in a different light, literally. No two computer monitors, phones, tables, television sets and more are ever set the same. People will either use it however it came from the factory or make adjustments to how they feel it should be especially with TV sets having modes for movies, video games and more built into them. With a print on the other hand you can show off your image the way you feel it is at its best and as an artist that is part of what we strive to do. While things can be left to interpretations we want our viewers to see the colors, highlights and shadows the way we see them. It’s not always possible what with some people being colorblind of which I am not making a joke, I know a few colorblind people and others whose vision over all is not the best. Still, we want to show our work the way we see it as best as possible. We can’t control how others see it on their digital end, at least not within the realms of full control but we can regulate how they see it face to face and this is how I accomplish that task.

The first thing I do is set aside a small collection of photos. In my case I have ten of these and they range from colorful and vibrant to a bit bland. From simple black and whites with good toning to high contrast with pure whites and the blackest blacks. Of these ten images two are set aside for charts with one being a gradient chart in black and white and the other in color. All of these combine so that I can make adjustments to my display so that I know when I send out images to be printed they will look the same when physically in my hands as they do on my monitor. It’s really that simple for me. I use good lighting to make sure they are shown as they should be and spend the time to get everything looking the same. Every so often I check back with them making sure everything is still good and periodically I get them reprinted to make sure that my print company of choice hasn’t changed anything on their end that might skew the end results from a printing run.

So that’s it! Its low tech but for me it works and helps keep my monitor in check as well as my printing service. Sure, one doesn’t have to go this far as many places make fine prints without getting complicated but I think if you want to keep the integrity of what you are trying to express then it’s worth doing a little work to make sure that artistic vision is given the best opportunity to shine.

Also, if you want to know who I use for my prints, it’s Meridian Professional Imaging. No promo here as I’m not getting paid or any kickbacks, I just simply enjoy the service and product I get. Go with whoever you like, it doesn’t matter to me personally. Just make sure you get your monitor and prints to match so you can better show yourself off.

And as for printing at home, that’s nice and all but unless you have some serious money for some serious equipment it will never match what a professional printer can do for you.

Is It Still Photography?

I was recently asked by a person how they could take pictures like Holly Spring and I started off with saying how this sort of thing opens up a can of worms in my mind when it comes the art and world of photography, at least in the purest sense for me.

If you aren’t aware of Holly Spring and her work it’s really worth looking into. She has done some great stuff with a series involving daughter that is quite amazing. It’s imaginative and inspiring. Wondrous and full of dreams. The link to her Facebook page is below and I do recommend taking a look.

https://www.facebook.com/HSpringPhotography

Now while I do enjoy and admire her work I have to also say that in my mind I cannot see it as a pure photograph. I can see it as a graphic manipulation because of how much was done in post to create this world that without the manipulation never existed. It makes me sad when people think of it as just a photograph because it’s a photograph sure but with a world digitaly created and/or heavily manipulated to obtain a vision the artist has in mind.

So then I wonder where is the line between photograph and graphic design? Are there steps or levels to this process? I mean Ansel Adams created amazing photographs with nowhere near the technology of today and used chemicals and tricks to change a photo to bring out highlights or boost contrast. There are also well known images where they were changed to add or remove people, add clouds, change frowns to smiles and more. Sometimes for good, other times for evil, these were done and changed the image to reflect an idea. How much change needs to be made before it is no longer a photograph but a mixture of mediums to create a work of art?

I cannot personally answer this question as all I can say is that for me I feel more comfortable calling what I do photography if I make as few changes as I can to obtain my vision. The photograph below is a good example. With only my camera, a small LED light panel and an old piece of black cloth I took this photo of a peach purchased from a local farm. It was then brought into Photoshop where upon opening Brightness/Contrast I boosted the contrast by a factor of 50 and lowered the brightness down to 25. Does that take away from this being photography? Obviously there is manipulation but is it still photography without crossing the line to being more of a digital graphic art? In my mind no but as for Holly Springs work, while amazing I feel it to be more of a combination piece blending photography and graphic design for a look into an amazing world and not strictly photography.

I guess my only point here is to say that while I love what technology has brought us I dislike how it appears to have changed what is a photograph in this world, just a pure photograph and nothing more.

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Social Media & My Photography + A Bonus!

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I thought I’d take the weekend to branch out more into social media. Some say it’s good, others say it’s bad. All I know is I’m not pushing the aspect of it down throats so here are the links if it seems interesting enough.

Tumblr: http://richardscottphoto.tumblr.com
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/R_S_Photo
Twitter: https://twitter.com/R_S_Photo
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/richardscottphoto

I’ve also recently taken the above picture and liked it enough to use on the main website. If that’s something you’d like to look at too here that link.

http://www.decaystudio.com

I guess not a normal post but I’m not sure what is and besides, this is a blog of what I’m doing with photography and I guess visual art so with that said here’s something else I recently did. It’s the beginning of a series I call “Chasing Clouds” where I time-lapse the sky above me and bring out the dance the clouds do but we are unable to see.

 

Chuck Close & His Great Quote

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I was recently watching a documentary series I have seen numerous times called The Genius of Photography. If you haven’t seen nor heard of it then you’re missing out. Put out by the BBC in 2007 it is hands down one my most favorite videos to watch on photography and its history. If you haven’t seen it and are interested take a look around online, there are some places from which you can watch.

Now as many times as I have watched it for the first time a quote from Chuck Close stood out to me more than it had before.

“Here’s the dilemma and the strength of photography. It’s the easiest medium in which to be competent but it’s the hardest medium in which to have personal vision that is readily identifiable.”

I’ve heard it many times before when watching the documentary series only now it means more to me as I have looked over my work to try and understand if there is anything about what I shoot that stands out to be mine. To be honest to myself and with this post I have to answer with a no, at least not yet. I’d like to think maybe one day there will be something that is mine and identifies me. For now I simply enjoy black and white more than color and I like a punch of contrast too.

If you are able to obtain a vision that is identifiable as your own then great. You’ve achieved what many artists from all mediums are looking to do but if not, maybe you will one day or maybe you won’t. I say, who cares? Do what you do and do it for you.