how do you photograph elder friends?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by jtk, Dec 3, 2018.

  1. jtk

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    Thinking "portraits"...not studies of wrinkles.

    I'm relatively grown up (75) , have peers.

    Noticing that I've only photographed a few in the past, theses would be my fellow geezers and geezerettes where humor and traces of eros abide,

    Thinking casual, natural light, uncluttered, animated. Perhaps slightly PS diffused (for the benefit of the ladies). Don't want to photograph evidence of COPD...is that wrong? If honest, would look like product photos. Would however photograph wheels.

    Are you doing something like this? What's your strategy?
     
  2. Sirius Glass

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    I do not see an upside to photographing signs of COPD or other negative health issues.
     
  3. Eric Rose

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    I agree with SG. Unless you are doing a commercial job in which case you would be using actors I would imagine someone with actual COPD etc. really wouldn't want to immortalize it.
     
  4. nmp

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    Shoot them in (a) good light.
     
  5. Colin Corneau

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    Light is everything, here.

    Choose your light (read: modifiers) carefully.

    Get as much right in camera to begin with as possible. The less PS the better.
     
  6. OP
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    jtk

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    Good. How do you deal with their probable reluctance? I've used flattery with people who remain proud ... What else?
     
  7. Sirius Glass

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    In a loud voice say: Next!
     
  8. OP
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    jtk

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    Excellent !
     
  9. Kevin Caulfield

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    Sorry if I missed it but what is "COPD ?
     
  10. Eric Rose

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    lucky you! You are obviously free from the ever present US pharma ads. According to the google machine here is the definition of COPD:

    Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and refractory (non-reversible) asthma. This disease is characterized by increasing breathlessness.
     
  11. faberryman

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    There is this new thing on the internet called Google. You type in a word or phrase and it returns relevant information. You ought to try it.
     
  12. Sirius Glass

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    Wouldn't one rather wander around not knowing, thus remaining in a state of bliss?
     
  13. jvo

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    although i do a lot of casual/candid photographs of friends and acquaintances, when i ask to do something more formal, (i.e. a picture where they are clearly the subject, where they sit/pose for me, etc.), i find the biggest issue is getting them to be natural, avoid a toothy, self-conscious grin, and reveal something.

    it's never really them or the equipment. it's more me being able to take the time to explain what i'm looking for, or give them a mental image of something that will evoke a feeling that i capture. i've only been able to do it when it is the two of us. The pre-planning is 90% me visualizing the sitter working with me, and 10% technique. not being a expert/perfectionist, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. i've always enjoyed this part of photography - good luck.

    p.s i've known people with copd - it sucks - other than lacking stamina, debilitating, and remove the oxygen line, i'm not sure what it "looks" like...
     
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  15. faberryman

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    He asked a question. I am just promoting self-sufficiency. A good thing at any age. :smile:
     
  16. Michael L.

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    Please don't think me insolent, jtk, but I think I sense a difference in culture here and I should greatly appreciate your help to understand its nature. You live in the USA, I live in Denmark.

    Why would you be reluctant to photograph a sufferer of (especially) COPD ? For aesthetic reasons, out of consideration for the afflicted person, or because of personal qualms?
    Certainly COPD is a debilitating illness, but not all sufferers are visibly crippled or festooned with oxygen lines or other distracting apparatus. And even if some are, this shouldn't preclude a good portrait being taken, provided the person is obliging and not ashamed of her/his condition. Age and illness take their toll of beauty; that is part of the human condition and should, in principle, be photographable - if not photogenic. The print will not necessarily end up an Arbus imitation.

    I ask my question in perfect sincerity. I myself (70) am terminally ill with COPD (from smoking), and I wouldn't mind a proficient photographer friend taking my picture if that were her/his wish (only I would stipulate that it be in B/W). In exchange, the friend might be persuaded to push my wheelchair to some location where I could take a few pictures myself.
    I know that many fellow sufferers are similarly disinclined to let themselves be defined solely by their complaint.

    And the upside to a photograph (in contrast to the living person) is, I might add, that the beholder is mercifully spared listening to the sufferer's wheezing breath and noisy coughing.

    All the best,
    Michael
     
  17. Mick Fagan

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    I tell them I wish to photograph them using one of my 4x5" cameras, I have them sitting down and we talk as I invariably fiddle getting things into their correct place. Usually at least 15 minutes goes by, at that stage we are having some kind of discussion, which may be a continuation of an earlier discussion, they are relaxed and then I do some dummy runs of cocking and releasing the shutter at a slow speed, so they hear the length of time an exposure will take.

    Usually works a treat; I run either group portraits from visiting couples or a few couples, to single people. The best thing I know is to have them seated, they relax, they are able to be focused reasonably correctly; sometimes using a piece of string, then we are ready to cock the shutter and expose.

    Mick.
     
  18. ozmoose

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    Tri X in a Rolleiflex - I use a T with a 16 exposure kit and shoot horizontals - slightly more background seems to add to the charm of 'oldie' portraits.
    If you prefer color, try Fuji 400 for a 'softer' look.
    A Rolleisoft 0 or 1. (This is a diffusion filter).
    Overexpose up to half a stop.
    Natural light. I reflect window light off several old doors I have painted matte white. No gloss.
    Process film normally. Err on a somewhat harder negative than usual.
    Keep the photo session short and sweet.Know when enough is enough, and stop.
    A (small) glass or two of sherry before (and often after) helps to relax up the more tense subjects. That is, if they drink. Enquire politely about medication before you pour.
    These techniques have never failed me.

    So-called "smart" remarks about COPD or dementia are in poor taste and reflect poorly on the image of this site, but some will never learn...
     
  19. Vaughn

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    With my parents, you could have just offered my mom a scotch and my dad a glass of red wine...as long as you photographed them before they finished the second one. Too much laughing after that.
     
  20. Michael L.

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    Just to get myself back to the thread's subject:

    I think I am much in line with jvo (#13). In particular with people I knew well - elderly relatives, longtime friends and the like - regular portrait photography was nearly always an akward affair. The main obstacle was their dislike of posing for me, precisely because we knew each other well. The situation felt stilted.
    I had better luck just staying around the elderly subject for some relaxed hours in her/his natural habitat, talking, perhaps helping with small chores, being shown memorabilia or such, and using available light to shoot lots of frames on fast film. Quite soon the subject usually stopped paying attention to the sound of the shutter and my moving around, and that offered plenty of opportunities for more or less unaffected candid shots.
    Of course, such shots didn't yield proper portraits in the classic sense, but the better of them did convey a fair impression of the active living persons I knew, and the subjects were mostly quite pleased with the final prints; 'genuine', 'authentic' and 'natural' were some of the epithets they kindly bestowed on the more successful of my efforts.

    All the best,
    Michael

    P.S.: I hope my above post (#15) didn't offend anybody with its feeble attempts at gallows humour. As an amateur I can allow myself to think there is a lot to be said for the Cromwellian ("warts and all") school of portraiture. A professional probably can't afford it.
     
  21. Peter Schrager

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    Check out Paula chamlee book she did of her parents and their farm...very dignified photographs..show dignity!!
     
  22. OP
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    jtk

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    Wish I still had my Rollei and Proxars etc..

    Just unearthed my baby Graphic (6X9)... thinking about its 135 Xenar and maybe even its 250mm Tele Optar.... Ridiculous, eh?

    6X9 scans beautifully with my antique Epson 3200 scanner. My Durst 609 turned into an excellent copy stand. Hmmm.
     
  23. Alan Edward Klein

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    Hand them the remote cable release and let them shoot themselves.
     
  24. ozmoose

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    Yes to everything you said! Be sure to make it good Scotch and decent wine - as the French say, life is too short to drink bad booze. Or in our case, to take too few images.

    Those laughing shots may well be your most treasured ones.

    This is where Tri X/HP5/Rollei 400 really proves its worth.

    Whatever and however you take them - be sure to take them. You will value those images all the more in years to come, when the subjects are no longer with you.
     
  25. BrianShaw

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    Like.
     
  26. OP
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    jtk

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    Go to Walmart...there are always folks walking around with tanks or smaller, more discrete devices feeding them oxygen through nose via tubes. They will use different personal appearance strategies. Some will be seriously impaired. Some will be surprisingly young.
     
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