how do you photograph elder friends?

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

  1. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member
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    No, I don’t endorse denigrating anyone. I think your going a bit out on a limb with that one. But no matter, we agree that denigration is inappropriate.

    Regarding difference between Rolleisoft and Rollei Duto... yes, I believe you that they are same. But “Softar” if I’m not mistaken is specific name for a Zeiss product with droplets not rings. I think we might be on same wavelength but using words a fit differently.

    No matter... my point was that there is a difference and I prefer Duto to zeiss softar (or the like) almost always.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2018
  2. OP
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    jtk

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    fwiw Avedon photographed many grotesquely disturbed people in a mental hospital. He used a Minox (16mm). Max Waldman later emulated Avedon (perhaps unintentionally) with 35mm 2475 Recording Film. https://maxwaldman.com/pages/theatretn.html

    The Avedon photos seem to have disappeared, but Waldmans can be seen online and are still available as posters.

    Avedon was praised for his photos of the extended cancer demise of his father using his classic technique. The prints were gigantic and beautiful.

    In San Francisco, at the peak of the AIDS epidemic, a photographer (wish I knew to credit him) formally photographed Kaposi's Sarcoma sufferers in almost-Avedon B&W style...a dozen or more were hung prominently in the just-opened Flying Star ice cream parlor on Polk Street. Think about that: wonderful ice cream in the context of Kaposi's Sarcoma.

    I photographed a pair of sisters on the occasion of the anticipated death of one of them. I photographed my only teacher who was dying from "photographer's disease"...Parkinson's. The sisters were happy, my teacher died and I photographed his funeral.

    Nationalism is a cancer.
     
  3. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member
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    jtk sez, “Nationalism is a cancer.“

    ... so are most “isms”.
     
  4. jawarden

    jawarden Member
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    This is the first I've heard that Parkinson's is apparently caused by being a photographer.
     
  5. OP
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    jtk

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    A number of famous photographers died of Parkinson's: Edward Weston for example. Probably genetic, but sometimes said to be caused by frequent exposure to pyrogallol developer. Fingernails turn black due to the exposure.

    Stanford University physicians guessed the pyro connection when they met my 33yr old teacher.

    My mother, a serious amateur photographer, mentioned that she had read (in Minicam?) "photographer's disease" related to Weston and her hero, Margaret Bourke White.

    My teacher's fingernails were not black during the dozen years I knew him, but he had spent a lot of time at RIT in darkrooms before he graduated and switched to Kodachrome. I have no idea about his exposure to photo chemicals at RIT.

    The pyro connection is tenuous, but "photographer's disease" was commonly attributed to it (many photographers did get black fingernails back when pyro was a common chemical).

    Parkinsons is a syndrome, not an individual disease. Some people live long lives with little more than quivering hands. It's very common.

    It's extremely unusual in young people, which interested Stanford in my teacher, whose version caused his body to totally freeze up sometimes, making the carpentry he'd been doing when diagnosed impossible. It almost immediately made his speech very hard to understand..that was the "within" part.

    My teacher was diagnosed at 33, was treated semi-successfully at Stanford University with L-DOPA back when that was a wildly experimental drug (they had no idea about dosages). He died at 45, finally managing to produce a very personal slide show called "A Scream From Within"...like hideous psychedelia.













    \
     
  6. BrianShaw

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    That’s all very interesting. I’ve been casually following, too, but have never seen much on it outside of photography forum discussions. Do you know of discussion in legitimate medical sources?

    Historically I believe that Bright’s Disease held that distinction...
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2018
  7. BrianShaw

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  8. jawarden

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    It's true that a number of photographers had Parkinsons, but tens of millions didn't. Parkinson's is not well understood and neither are its causes unfortunately.

    Parkinson's is the second most common neurological disorder behind Alzheimers, and is growing. Darkroom photography is the millionth least common hobby and declining. I see no reason for concern and have never read a study suggesting darkroom chems have anything at all to do with PD. (There was a synthetic heroin poisoning in the 80s that triggered Parkinson's syndrome in some unfortunates and has been well documented and studied, and was thought to be the trigger for a swift cure to the disease but it hasn't panned out.)

    The most common factor for Parkinson's is simply age, which makes it especially painful when young folks get it. (If we all lived to 120 we would all have Parkinson's syndrome.) That pain of a young diagnosis is why there are so many false correlations between activities, diet, chemical exposure etc and the disease.



     
  9. OP
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    jtk

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    fwiw, a hard-to-obtain PBS video called "The Case of the Frozen Addict" details symptoms that seemed identical to my teacher's. Certain manifestations of Parkinson's Syndrome are now immediately eliminated by easily targeted and installed brain implants (wire to skull from battery pack etc in hip pocket). When my teacher first made contact with bigtime medicine, brain surgery was proposed.... splitting the two hemispheres sounded like fun to somebody at Harvard. My teacher decided that was nutz, returned to CA and intelligent medicine (Stanford) and remained productive for fifteen more years.
     
  10. jawarden

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    That addict situation focused a lot of scientific effort on pesticides for quite some time as a cause of PD but alas.

    Yes deep brain stimulation for some is basically a miracle cure, giving the patient his/her life back, if only for a while. (I wouldn't go so far as to describe it as easily targeted and installed though. This is in no way a trivial operation.) There are significant side effects as you might imagine and the therapeutic effect is not permanent, but I'd do it if it was me.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2018
  11. faberryman

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    jtk,

    They are your friends. How do you want to photograph them?
     
  12. ozmoose

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    Ah, finally we are back on topic again. :outlaw:
     
  13. jawarden

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    Well we were until you posted that. :tongue:
     
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  15. BrianShaw

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    That’s okay. This question has been asked before and not answered...
     
  16. OP
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    jtk

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    I have done that but don't choose to post online.
     
  17. BrianShaw

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    right.

    How about a follow up discussion about the photo session experience you were seeking advice about in post 1...
    Did they have concern about their assistive devices?
    Did you include them in the portrait?
    Did you have any emotional experiences because of their ailment?
     
  18. OP
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    jtk

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    The installation was done in Phoenix, AZ (NM didn't/doesn't have brain surgeons and drive to PHX is scenic). The individual, a very attractive middle-aged woman, has remained an active elementary school teacher for the past dozen years.

    My 89 yr old father had the same symptom ( eventual total inability to swallow...no other symptoms). Implant may not have yet existed. He did not want tubes so was allowed to die.
    Brian, you promised earlier to butt out, yet you're following my posts closely.

    "Talking about this on the internet seems to be what the OP is all about. Wasn’t it schizophrenia last month? Talk... and the same challenges that seem to go only one way... and no action..."

    That was intentionally offensive. Right?
     
  19. BrianShaw

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    I didn’t promise anything... and don’t flatter yourself... I’m not stalking or following your posts...

    To be clear: Not intentionally offensive. Just intentionally blunt. Offensive is all in your perception. You were the one challenging folks to post their examples “to prove their credibility”.

    I’m actually interested in discussing the topic you originally posted. Which is taking pictures of people with “disabilities and other ailments “. Aren’t you?

    So...
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2018
  20. OP
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    jtk

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    I think it's a courtesy to show your work on Media or with a link...especially if you find it necessary demean others.

    By the way, the OT is "how do you photograph elder friends". You evidently missed that.

    You were anxious to know if I'd photographed the (self-diagnosed) schizophrenic person I mentioned having contacted through his self promotion (his biz card pinned to brewpub wall and his website). He didn't respond to my gentle suggestion that he might be interested in a portrait. My portrait appointment with another young schizophrenic person (same timeframe) is "on hold" per his care-taking mother (a fine photographer who knows my work but doesn't want to photograph him herself).

    I photographed my teacher (Minor White student), who was a few years into his Parkinson's decline...perhaps the last time he hiked with a camera (Sonoma County coastal range). I also photographed him in his last year. Those photos are between me and his widow. I also photographed our mourning friends, who included two other Minor White students, at his funeral. I would post a couple of those if I could make contact with them...it's been about 30 years.

    I never photographed the school teacher with the implant. Met her once at a party.

    I didn't photograph my Parkinson's father since I wanted to remember his robust health ten years earlier (at my current age), which I photographed well.

    My post-graduate work was in research psychology...I was also interested in autism, was certified in Behavior Therapy, worked professionally with autistic and other extremely disturbed (institutionalized) children. That's very demanding emotionally. When I wanted no more of that I turned back to photography.

    As it happens my family has carried Huntington's disease since 1939, when it was first recognized as a malady. That disease skipped my father's line (therefore isn't in my line or my sister's), having killed his mother, brother, one of his nephews (who was a photographer)...Huntington's is unavoidably in the genes of a number of his grand-nephews (at least one of whom has sworn never to have children).

    Brian, some people are alert to these things, some experience them, others....
     
  21. BrianShaw

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    Get off your high horse madam. “You” never demeaned anyone. “You” simply never accepted your ongoing credibility challenges. Oh well... we should exchange CVs one day... you might be surprised that others are educated too. :smile:

    But thanks very much for filling in “the rest of the story”... it significantly improves the discussion. No, I did not “evidently” miss anything. When someone asks a “What would you do” question it’s always nice for the information exchange to be mutual.

    And please finish your sentences... no need to be passive-aggressive with me. If you don’t like me or have something to say, please feel free to just say it. Im not a mind-reader and don’t want to make assumptions or read between lines. I can take it... really... I’m quite confident since I’m near career end and have dealt with lots of arrogant grumpy old assholes quite successfully. Peace?

    ... and to stay on topic... I wrote earlier about my photos of dying family and friends, none of whom were Minor White students. In the end it’s not the photo that defines the memory, it’s the memory that defines the memory. Not having a photo (or not looking at it if one exists) is a reasonable way to keep from crying all over again... but it doesn’t change the memory.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2018
  22. awty

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    I think your picture of Ruth is great and what a good portrait should be, where the surroundings are as much about the person. If I was good at photography thats what I would aim for, like HCB's picture of matisse and his birds.
    I got really sick a year ago and had to have a major operation and lost a lot of weight (when I didnt have much to begin with), couldnt stand looking into a mirror, much less getting my picture taken. Would be hard work getting someone with COPD comfortable. Sorry not much help, good luck with it.
     
  23. OP
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    jtk

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    Awty...Thanks for your complement on Ruth (doing her brake job). That was an easy photo because she was big fun.

    I accept that it's hard for some folks to share their work on Media...easier to type..

    Thanks for all the ideas and positive thoughts about real life portrait issues.
     
  24. jawarden

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    That's as close to perfect as one could hope for. A dozen years of perfect.
     
  25. OP
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    jtk

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    Sounds right, tho hoping for "perfect" seems a bit of a stretch

    I don't recall anybody mentioning fear on this thread...tho that probably lurks in the occasional obsessive hostility and argument.

    When my sister and I first realized how close we were to genetic 50% certainty of Huntington's we distracted ourselves by study of the disease, we're then overjoyed to learn we'd been spared. Parkinson's isn't as easy to diagnose and it's far more common...e.g. evidence in hands. Schizophrenia is a different matter...those folks are increasingly open about their conditions. Some very fine portraiture was done in the beginning of the AIDs crisis by photographers who were themselves at risk.

    Realities like these probably permeate Photrio...maybe it's hostility and fear that hide them from us. What do you think?
     
  26. jawarden

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    It's true that perfect isn't coming. I was trying to be positive. I spent a few days this week analyzing/attending boxing classes and speech therapy sessions for PD patients (for my job) and I can say that what they have is not perfect, after hours of interviews and hugs. It's just life. It's hard.
     
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