It’s been a heady week here at ACAD.
This launch week has been amazing. Truly. For you very first beta testers who told us what sucked and what didn’t, we love you and want to have your babies. And for those of you just joining us on the journey, thanks for your kind words and especially to Debbie from Lily Rose Photography who sent us our very first piece of fan email that was not from our moms.
We want to talk to you about rock stars. Not the kind that want to sell you plastic flash diffusers, not the kind that want to teach you to shoot and share.
The real rock stars. The people who are working their asses off in this industry all around the country.
You might be one of those rock stars. The one with the studio that you’re worried about paying the rent on this month. The one who falls asleep on your keyboard editing after your kids go to bed. The one who just had a huge fight with your spouse about all the hours you put in vs. how much money you bring in, and when you log on to your email there’s another client asking you for a discount.
We met Christy back in 2002-ish on a internet forum known as Zuga. (You get old timer points if you recognize that name or were a member of that forum). Fast forward to March 16, 2008 when a bunch of us who had met online met up with Christy and her husband Chris at WPPI in Vegas.
Christy describes how her life changed that night: “Chris and I were staying at Terribles. The fire alarms went off around 5 am and woke us up and this is when we noticed that our cell phones had gone off (ringers were off). My Mom was calling to tell us they had life-lined AJ to Riley after doing an emergency shunt into his brain. When we got on the plane he was going into surgery with a 50/50 chance. He had a brain tumor in the posterior fossa (back part of the brain stem) that had ruptured. It was diagnosed as high risk Medullablastoma.”
Recently Christy has been posting photos on social media of her grandfather’s that have captured our attention. These are photos of Christy’s childhood and life in her rural Indiana town in the 50’s and 60’s. The images are so timeless they take your breath away with the simplicity of them.
Here’s her story:
1. Dark Chocolate, Milk or White?
My fave is Milk (probably because it’s the worst for you – my family will tell you I don’t like anything that is good for me) but I won’t say no to any type of chocolate.
2. Tell us a little bit about your business. What do you primarily photograph?
I started out with primarily weddings because I liked the creativity I was able to achieve at them. I realized that in today’s economy and industry I needed to branch out and started photographing babies and kids which led into families. HS Seniors, pets.
3. You are a rarity, a second generation professional photographer! How did your grandfather influence you?
We lived with my Grandparents when I was younger because my Father served in Vietnam. Even when we weren’t living with them we were there every weekend. I remember my Grandfather’s darkroom and going out to meet clients with him. He was a photojournalist first and foremost and as long as I can remember there was a police scanner in their kitchen. He was ready to go out at a moments notice. I always saw the camera as an extension to his soul. My Mom says he was always whispering stuff in my ear and brainwashing me.
4. Over the past few months you’ve been scanning in and restoring some of your grandfather’s work. Clearly this is a labor of love and it’s got to bring back a lot of emotions. What has surprised you most about the response you’ve had from posting these photos on social media?
I’m surprised how many people I didn’t know would respond and like it, even love it. I’ve had several people tell me that they are going through family boxes of pictures now and cataloging with their kids because of it. I’ve received inquiries to shoot anniversaries and parties because the people that are following this are realizing it is not easy to document these events yourself and get memorable pictures.
I do get emotional over it and come downstairs with tears in my eyes over this and that and my husband has tried to be understanding! My Mother’s brother Johnny, died at age 12 of cancer. I feel like I’m living a parallel life with my Grandparents except for one thing: my kid was saved and it’s because of the advances of technology. Seeing my uncle at the same age as my son knowing he didn’t have the advantages has given me a new appreciation for life and for the documentation of my families life.
It is almost like reliving history through my Grandfather’s eyes. His negative envelopes indicate exact dates/addresses where photos were taken. They include the subjects, the developer and film used. Sometimes the specific camera. It is literally like 1950’s metadata. It has opened my eyes to some things I’m doing wrong (with my own personal photo collection). And just in MISSING personal moments. I’ve started driving around town and seeing things differently. That building they decided to tear down. I need to get down here with my gear and photograph it – my Grandfather would’ve – I envy him in a way. He worked for the local newspaper for a long time and I can see how it provided many interesting assignments. He worked with the local hospitals, Purdue University and the City of Lafayette.
5. Imagine your grandfather was still alive today to see how professional photography has changed. What do you think he’d like? Dislike?
I think he would love it, the technology, digital. PHOTOSHOP! I’ve noticed similarities in media changes in his own work. He started out in 4×5 negative format. EVERYTHING was 4×5 for about 15 years. Then I noticed medium format intruding more and more, 2.25 film here and there. There was always 35mm but it was sprinkled in like we sprinkle in P&S format or iPhone format now. He only seemed to use 35mm when it was a last draw or convenience issue. EXCEPT with slide film. He shot a lot of Kodachrome and Ektachrome in 35mm as far back as the fifties and it is incredible. He did most of his Arial work in 35mm Ektachrome.
I think he would dislike the way the industry has changed with the ease of digital. Not that there is anything wrong with digital, but I think he would not like the “snake oil salesmen” of our time and industry, or the mentality of the spray and pray method. He was very methodical in his picture taking and most of his 4×5 folders have 4-6 images. And guess what? It is all that is needed. I’m not saying that more is worse, I have to admit in being an over-shooter because I am able. But back then you used 4 plates / negs and made it count.
6. You have two handsome boys. If either of them were interested in becoming the next McGreevy-Marks generation of photographers, would you encourage them to follow that path?
No, I have not encouraged them on this path. The industry has changed so much and is so unstable. My Grandfather encouraged his children and I have folders titled: Mikes 1st negs, Johnny’s 1st negs, etc. but his children didn’t follow in his path. It was me who did. I deeply love photography, always have since he whispered in my ear I guess. I know one of my sons is interested in business and comes home all of the time telling me how to run mine. It is sweet and he has good and valid points at times. If either of them expressed the desire I would help them with photography skills and encourage them to expand in business horizons. Photography and art is so personal, you can’t impose it on anyone, least of all your children.
7. What part of the photographic process do you love most; what keeps you going when business takes a downturn?
Shooting – being creative but above all – owning my own life. I built my life, I took risks that scared me shitless and I’m here – I’m still going and doing what I love. But it is HARD. Would it even mean anything if it were easy?
8. Where do you see your business in 10 years?
Wow, tough question. I wish I could see into the future. One thing I’m not, is a quitter and that is why I’ve lasted so long. I will continue to fight for this industry because it is so important but I don’t have a crystal ball. Even if I don’t last in this business for another 10 years, I will still be photographing. My grandfather taught me the importance of documenting life.