Introduction to Senior Portrait
This age group that we're gonna photograph is seniors, so it's a generation that have so much, so much life to tell. They have such incredible stories they have lived, and to be able to try and capture that in a photograph is not always easy, but sometimes it doesn't have to be hard. So I focus on connection. I focus on a lifetime of together, I focus on love. I focus on the really simple things for this. Some of my photographs are a little more complex, but some of my favorite images are extremely simple. So this image here was taken just after their 60th wedding anniversary. These are my grandparents, and my grandfather's the reason I'm a photographer. He gave me a book when I was 16. It was an old book, and he was always very fascinated with photography. He wasn't a photographer, but he was always very, very persistent in taking photographs of his family whenever anyone came to visit. We all had to line up, and it didn't matter whether we were in our pajamas or, you know, our swimme...
rs. We would stand in front of our old beat-up cars and we would have to have a family portrait. Some kids would be crying in that portrait. Some kids would be running around. You know, my brother would often be pinching us. But it was always those photographs that documented that time, and he knew the importance of that while we were growing up. And I always admired that about him because I think we can lose the importance of a photograph. We get so caught up in the taking of it. We get so caught up in being known as a photographer and the ego that sometimes comes with it. But if we come back to the importance of those photographs, you know, they are our legacy. So when I look back now at all the photographs my grandfather took of us growing up as kids, they're my favorite memories. At the time, they might not have been (laughs), because no one wants to stand there and have their photograph taken. You want to be off playing in the yard and things like that, but he knew he had to document every single second he had with his family. And that's where my passion and love of photography come from, and I am beyond grateful for that gift he gave me. So yeah, after their 60th wedding anniversary, I wanted to be able to capture something that just showed, you know, their connection, their love of each other, and it was so simple. They were wearing sort of quite busy clothes as they always did (laughs). My grandfather always had a check flannelette shirt on 'cause he was a farmer and he was hard worker. And my grandmother was a seamstress, so she always wore quite, sort of, you know, colorful clothes and whatever she had made. So I just picked up a piece of fabric out of my studio and I wrapped it around them to create that connection. And it's one of my favorite images, and it's blown up about this big in my house. And every day I walk past it, I'm reminded of the love that they had for each other, but also of that connection. I mean, and how many people are married longer than 60 years these days? Not many, and you know what? He always said one life, one wife, and that is something I'll always remember. So when it comes to finding inspiration, and we go back to our points, everything comes down to that listening, especially with this age group, because they have so many stories to tell. They have a lifetime of experience. They have, you know, some sad memories, but they've got some great memories, and being able to capture that is really incredible. Sometimes, though, when I was photographing my grandparents, it wasn't always for them (laughs) or anyone else. I was a little selfish, because I have my own fond memories of my grandparents, and I wanted to create images for me that I could keep and hang in my house. And I know that is selfish, but I needed to do it. I needed to have beautiful photographs that every time I walked past, that it reminded me of a time when I was little and with them. So I used that as inspiration to create some of these beautiful photographs. But, obviously, you know, when you're visiting art galleries, and I talked in earlier segments about how painters painted light, how they saw it and how they created mood depth, and, you know, this incredible emotion through light. So I've used that in that previous image that you saw to create that connection. It was just that beautiful, soft natural light coming in through a window that I just had them sit there in front of, so simple. And my grandfather was sitting on a stool, and my grandmother was standing behind him with her arms around him. So that's how that was created, so easy, so simple. But the power of light is incredible, and I learnt that through visiting art galleries and looking at how they painted that light. And yeah, different things, like I would sit for hours when it comes to brainstorming. I would sit for hours talking to my grandfather about the different concepts I had, because he always had a love of photography. And when digital photography came out, and he was the type of man that would pull everything apart. I kid you not, he would get a new car and he would pull the engine apart just to see how it worked and put it back together. And yeah, I caught him one day trying to pull apart my digital camera (laughs). (audience laughs) So I'm like, Pop, no (laughs). Not probably the best thing to do here 'cause I have no idea how it goes back together. And they didn't come with manuals like cameras did, you know, when they were a little different. So yeah, I would talk to him about how he wanted to be photographed or how I could photograph him, or even just practicing different techniques. Some of my favorite photographs have just been practicing new techniques that I was learning along the way. So it's really, in terms of inspiration, you can find it absolutely anywhere. But when I talk about being selfish and creating images for me, I will never, ever forget the sound of my grandmother laughing as I stood on the bed above them to take this photograph. But the reason that I took this photograph was because they lived on a farm and it was a really old farmhouse, and I just love nothing more than going there. And every morning I would be the first person awake, and I would go and crawl into bed with them, 'cause it was always so warm and they always had these flannelette sheets that were so soft and warm. And my grandmother would just lay there, you know, playing with my hand or my hair, and my grandfather would tell me a story. So these are my fondest childhood memories, and now every time I look at that, that's what reminds me of that time. So it's okay to be selfish and to create your own inspiration from a memory and things like that. And these are probably more personal projects that I've been able to create, so yeah. You can see that I don't remove anything. It's all really very natural because the lines and the marks are from years lived, so I'm not gonna remove all of those, unless, of course, they ask me to. But this is my grandmother Cheryl and she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's a little while ago, about seven years ago, and four years ago, it started to get quite bad. So she would just laugh. When it started to get bad, she'd just laugh. She still knew who we were. She would forget our names, but she knew we were family, you know. And I sat her down in front of the camera because I just wanted to photograph her, and this was after my Pop had passed away. And we were just having a conversation, just a general conversation, and then she would start telling me something, and I captured all of these different expressions. But this is her, this is how I remember her growing up. So in terms of being inspired, you know, you can turn something that's not so great into a really beautiful lasting memory, because that's how I choose to remember her. And yeah, boy, did she have an incredible laugh. That's pretty cool, right?