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Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

Where I've Been: The Smokies

I recently returned from a very enjoyable trip to the Smoky Mountains with a group of my photography friends for a week of shooting. It really is a nice thing to get away and do something you love. Of course, it was a bit ironic that we left this year's persistent cold of Pittsburgh to arrive in Tennessee just in time for freezing temperatures down there. There were two days when we literally shot in hail and sleet. In fact, the roads to the upper elevations in the park were actually closed on the days we had scheduled to go there because of icy road conditions. 

Still, I went prepared with some heavier clothes and the wildflowers were in bloom. In the end, photographing with friends is a real treat no matter what the weather.

I haven't processed any of my photos yest, but while I was there I did take a few cell phone shots as well as a few moments of video here and there. How could you not enjoy being in a place like this, no matter what the weather?

Quick Quotes: Morley Baer

"Quit trying to find beautiful objects to photograph. Find the ordinary object so you can transform it by photographing it."

Morley Bayer


My interpretation: you don't have to run to Antarctica or even Iceland to make great photos. Look in the woods near your house. The ones that you can walk to. There's great stuff there. And you can really get to know it and visit in all kinds of conditions. It's just harder to make a great photograph there because you've seen it so many times. Familiarity breeds complacency. And because there's not a 100 foot waterfall there. Well, not in my woods anyway.

However, you can go on line and find thousands of images of icebergs and penguins in Antarctica, but probably only a couple hundred shots of those woods near your house. There is opportunity there. 

I'm rambling a bit....free flow of thought. But I think there is something to it!

Musical Interlude

Do you realize that the last time I posted a musical interlude was all the way back in January? That's far too long without a bit of music to process photos by :) 

Some might say that my musical tastes are a bit eclectic and some might say that they are simply stuck in the past. Either way, take this trip back with me to 1982 and listen to John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers do "Room To Move". For those not familiar with the group, here are some famous people who were once Bluesbreakers with John: Eric Clapton, Mick Fleetwood, Jack Bruce, and John McVie (among others).

Enjoy!

The Empathy Project #21

When I first started The Empathy Project, I wondered if I would find enough people with stories that were interesting enough that myself and others would want to listen to them. One important thing that I learned along the way is that everybody is interesting in one way or another!

Regis' advice? " Don't stop. Because once you stop, you're done for a long time".

Back in September, I had introduced my Empathy Project. The idea behind this 'humanism in medicine' project is that doctors often see patients without nearly as much time as they would like to have in order to get to know them  as 'people'.  It's easy for doctors to lose sight of the fact that patients have the same types of lives as they do, with the same ups and downs, and with interesting events that they have either witnessed or lived through. This project is an attempt to recognize 'patients as people' by having me take their portrait and record their stories at the end of their visit to my office.

As I make these posts, the portraits and audio will be added to my Empathy Project Portfolio, where all the entries can be seen and listened to in a group.

If you receive my posts by email, the audio won't come along with the image.....so, if you would like to listen, check it out on the blog itself at howardgrill.com/blog

 
 © Howard Grill

© Howard Grill

 

The Empathy Project On NPR

I'm proud to say that The Empathy Project was featured as a story on our local NPR radio station. It is a short piece that I thought I would share. The audio is under five minutes, but it was really fun to be interviewed and they also included comments by the renowned Dr Robert Arnold as well as by one of the patients who they called. You can listen to the audio using the link just under the opening photo.

The NPR piece can be found here.

The Empathy Project #20

This fellow is really a wonderful character. An explosive wonderful character.....you will see what I mean if you listen to the audio. His recommendation? Stay away from dynamite! I have been taking care of him for several years, but had no idea what his occupation was when he was younger (he's 84 now) until I asked.  This was really a fun interview!

Back in September, I had introduced my Empathy Project. The idea behind this 'humanism in medicine' project is that doctors often see patients without nearly as much time as they would like to have in order to get to know them  as 'people'.  It's easy for doctors to lose sight of the fact that patients have the same types of lives as they do, with the same ups and downs, and with interesting events that they have either witnessed or lived through. This project is an attempt to recognize 'patients as people' by having me take their portrait and record their stories at the end of their visit to my office.

As I make these posts, the portraits and audio will be added to my Empathy Project Portfolio, where all the entries can be seen and listened to in a group.

If you receive my posts by email, the audio won't come along with the image.....so, if you would like to listen, check it out on the blog itself at howardgrill.com/blog

 
empathy 20.jpg
 

The Empathy Project XIX

This is the one that started it all!

About ten years ago, I took care of a patient who was the 'right blister gunner' (the person who sat with a machine gun in the encasement under the right wing of a bomber) in World War II. We quickly became friendly when he found out that I enjoyed fine art photography, as he was a painter. In fact, he had designed and painted the insignia on the side of the B-29 bomber that he flew in. His insignia denoted a wheel, with each spoke representing something about each person of the crew. One day he  brought  a gift to the office for me. He wanted to give me three old photos that he had, one of the design work he had done before painting the insignia onto the B-29, which he called  "The Big Wheel":

 
big wheel.jpg
 

the second was a picture of him and the crew in front of the plane:

george and crew.jpg

and in the third, you can see the insignia that he painted onto the actual B-29:

Big Wheel 2.jpg

He loved telling me stories of his days in World War II, and one day I asked if I could record him and take his picture, both of which he quickly agreed to. I arranged for him to have 45 minutes for his next appointment and we talked for most of that time and he gave me permission to use the material in any way I wanted. At the time, I thought that recording these types of stories would make for a really interesting project, but I ended up putting the idea away for ten years before I decided it was time to resume the project in earnest. So let me introduce you to George..... 

 
empathy 19.jpg
 

George passed away in 2013 at the age of 92.

The Empathy Project - XVIII

Back in September, I had introduced my Empathy Project. The idea behind this 'humanism in medicine' project is that doctors often see patients without nearly as much time as they would like to have in order to get to know them  as 'people'.  It's easy for doctors to lose sight of the fact that patients have the same types of lives as they do, with the same ups and downs, and with interesting events that they have either witnessed or lived through. This project is an attempt to recognize 'patients as people' by having me take their portrait and record their stories at the end of their visit to my office.

I think after listening to this delightful man you will have a sense of what hard manual labor is! Also, if he whets your interest in what it was like to work in a steel mill have a look (and a listen) to my Carrie Furnace Project.

As I make these posts, the portraits and audio will be added to my Empathy Project Portfolio, where all the entries can be seen and listened to in a group.

If you receive my posts by email, the audio won't come along with the image.....so, if you would like to listen check it out on the blog itself at howardgrill.com/blog

 
Anthony Trongo
 

THe Empathy Project - XVII

Back in September, I had introduced my Empathy Project. The idea behind this 'humanism in medicine' project is that doctors often see patients without nearly as much time as they would like to have in order to get to know them  as 'people'.  It's easy for doctors to lose sight of the fact that patients have the same types of lives as they do, with the same ups and downs, and with interesting events that they have either witnessed or lived through. This project is an attempt to recognize 'patients as people' by having me take their portrait and record their stories at the end of their visit to my office.

As I make these posts, the portraits and audio will be added to my Empathy Project Portfolio, where all the entries can be seen and listened to in a group.

If you receive my posts by email, the audio won't come along with the image.....so, if you would like to listen check it out on the blog itself at howardgrill.com/blog

 
Karl Morosco
 

The Empathy Project - XVI

Back in September, I had introduced my Empathy Project. The idea behind this 'humanism in medicine' project is that doctors often see patients without nearly as much time as they would like to have in order to get to know them  as 'people'.  It's easy for doctors to lose sight of the fact that patients have the same types of lives as they do, with the same ups and downs, and with interesting events that they have either witnessed or lived through. This project is an attempt to recognize 'patients as people' by having me take their portrait and record their stories at the end of their visit to my office.

As I make these posts, the portraits and audio will be added to my Empathy Project Portfolio, where all the entries can be seen and listened to in a group.

If you receive my posts by email, the audio won't come along with the image.....so, if you would like to listen check it out on the blog itself at howardgrill.com/blog

 
empathy 16.jpg
 

Those Nasty Terms Of Service!

Facebook. Instagram. 500px. So many social media sites, so many web services. And when we sign up to use them we always have to accept the terms of service by ticking off a box and clicking OK. We have a sneaking suspicion that there's some stuff in there that we wouldn't necessarily want to agree to if we could help it, but we want to use the service. And after all, it is free.

I've done it. You've done it. We've all done it and likely will continue to do it. After all, what are the chances that somebody steals what you post. I mean, once you put 'stuff' on the internet that is searchable by Google, or other search engines, anyone can lift it right off the search page.

Well, it turns out that those pesky terms of service can, indeed, come back to bite ya! Recently, photographer and internet friend Mark Graf left 500px because of an incident where a company was and is legally able to simply embed his image on their site and use it commercially without any payment whatsoever. Rather than try to give you the details, why not hop over to Marks blog and read about it first hand? And sign up for e-mail notifications while you're there, his blog is a great read!

As Mark points out, photographer Michael Russel has also written about this. In fact, 500px was recently sold to the Visual China Group, and there have been subsequent concerns regarding intellectual property issues.

I had never signed up to use 500px, but I am on various other social media and sharing outlets that I am sure have similar terms of service. I guess we've been warned. This sort of thing has certainly been going on for a while. Welcome to the Digital Age (and I have to smile just a bit at the irony that as I proofread this I see my social media sharing buttons just below this sentence).

Quick Quotes - Kurt Vonnegut

Go into the arts. I'm not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the showrer. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.

Kurt Vonnegut


I happen to see this quote posted on Facebook, of all places. I love Kurt Vonnegut's novels and I love this quote. If ever one needed a reason to photograph, there it is!

The Empathy Project - XV

Back in September, I had introduced my Empathy Project. The idea behind this 'humanism in medicine' project is that doctors often see patients without nearly as much time as they would like to have in order to get to know them  as 'people'.  It's easy for doctors to lose sight of the fact that patients have the same types of lives as they do, with the same ups and downs, and with interesting events that they have either witnessed or lived through. This project is an attempt to recognize 'patients as people' by having me take their portrait and record their stories at the end of their visit to my office.

As I make these posts, the portraits and audio will be added to my Empathy Project Portfolio, where all the entries can be seen and listened to in a group.

If you receive my posts by email, the audio won't come along with the image.....so, if you would like to listen check it out on the blog itself at howardgrill.com/blog

 
 

The Empathy Project - XIV

Back in September, I had introduced my Empathy Project. The idea behind this 'humanism in medicine' project is that doctors often see patients without nearly as much time as they would like to have in order to get to know them  as 'people'.  It's easy for doctors to lose sight of the fact that patients have the same types of lives as they do, with the same ups and downs, and with interesting events that they have either witnessed or lived through. This project is an attempt to recognize 'patients as people' by having me take their portrait and record their stories at the end of their visit to my office.

This gentleman, who worked on the railroad years ago, used the term 'gandy dancing' in his interview. I had to look that one up! A gandy dancer is slang for the workers which performed the laborious task of maintaining the rails and ties of the tracks.

As I make these posts, the portraits and audio will be added to my Empathy Project Portfolio, where all the entries can be seen and listened to in a group.

If you receive my posts by email, the audio won't come along with the image.....so, if you would like to listen check it out on the blog itself at howardgrill.com/blog

 
Ralph Baker
 

The Empathy Project - XIII

Back in September, I had introduced my Empathy Project. The idea behind this 'humanism in medicine' project is that doctors often see patients without nearly as much time as they would like to have in order to get to know them  as 'people'.  It's easy for doctors to lose sight of the fact that patients have the same types of lives as they do, with the same ups and downs, and with interesting events that they have either witnessed or lived through. This project is an attempt to recognize 'patients as people' by having me take their portrait and record their stories at the end of their visit to my office.

The defibrillator this gentleman refers to is an implanted device that shocks the heart back into a regular rhythm if a serious, life-threatening cardiac rhythm abnormality is detected.

If you receive my posts by email, the audio won't come along with the image.....so, if you would like to listen check it out on the blog itself at howardgrill.com/blog

 
 © Howard Grill

© Howard Grill

 

The Empathy Project - XII

Back in September, I had introduced my Empathy Project. The idea behind this 'humanism in medicine' project is that doctors often see patients without nearly as much time as they would like to have in order to get to know them  as 'people'.  It's easy for doctors to lose sight of the fact that patients have the same types of lives as they do, with the same ups and downs, and with interesting events that they have either witnessed or lived through. This project is an attempt to recognize 'patients as people' by having me take their portrait and record their stories at the end of their visit to my office.

This particular fellow, a man in his forties who has a long life yet to live, is the survivor of an out of hospital cardiac arrest. I found his thoughts regarding how that event has affected him to be quite interesting and profound.

As I make these posts, the portraits and audio will be added to my Empathy Project Portfolio, where all the entries can be seen and listened to in a group.

 
 © Howard Grill

© Howard Grill

 

The Empathy Project - XI

Back in September, I had introduced my Empathy Project. The idea behind this 'humanism in medicine' project is that doctors often see patients without nearly as much time as they would like to have in order to get to know them  as 'people'.  It's easy for doctors to lose sight of the fact that patients have the same types of lives as they do, with the same ups and downs, and with interesting events that they have either witnessed or lived through. This project is an attempt to recognize 'patients as people' by having me take their portrait and record their stories at the end of their visit to my office.

As I make these posts, the portraits and audio will be added to my Empathy Project Portfolio, where all the entries can be seen and listened to in a group.

 
 © Howard Grill

© Howard Grill

 

Green Onions

Arghhhh....I had a whole blog post written reviewing a book that I had read and then I accidentally hit the wrong button and poof...gone! One of the few things that I don't love about Squarespace is that it doesn't auto-save intermittently and CTL-Z does....well, nothing. I can't bring myself to try to recreate the whole post again so it seems a great time for one of my occasional musical interludes. And somehow "Green Onions" just seems like the right title of a song to play in this circumstance. It's one of those tunes that is hard to get out of your head once it's in there!

To add a little interest, I thought I would show the 'then' and the 'now', though the now isn't really now since it was filmed in 2003 and bassist Donald 'Duck' Dunn died in 2012 (after having replaced Lewie Steinberg in 1965). The drummer, Al Jackson Jr, was murdered in 1975 and the band played with several different drummers after that. Booker T and The MGs was a band that formed in 1962 and was one of the earliest racially integrated rock groups.

Then (best I can tell the bassist in this video is Dunn and not Steinberg, but I'm not totally certain):

And 'now":

A Mother's Treasure III

I continue to work on my series of compositions making up a mini-project I call 'A Mother's Treasure'.  Details can be found here.  

This particular composition comes from an ornate area on the back of the regal clothes that are worn by the 'king'. I liked the repetitive rainbow shapes placed within the more complex engraving.

 © Howard Grill

© Howard Grill

The Year Of 100 Rejections By Charles Chu

Lately I have been taking a number of on-line courses trying to learn new types of photo artistry techniques, learning to use flash, learning to make composites etc. And the one thing that rings true for learning and improving at all these things is that the improvement comes from the doing. Doing over and over and over again. Defining what you want to learn. Forming projects. Setting deadlines.

One of the best ways of describing the process comes from an article I read by Charles Chu, whose method for becoming a better writer is to plan to have his short stories get rejected 100 times during the next year.  The idea is that by the end of the year he will have done so much writing without being concerned about rejection that he won't be able to help but become a much better writer.  As he notes in his post:

'Ray Bradbury, most famous now for his novel Fahrenheit 451, once advised that writers write one short story a week. Why one story a week? Because “It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.”'

Intrigued? it really is a great article about how to get better at something...at anything really!

"The Year Of 100 Rejections".  It's a good and quick read that I wanted to share. And it pertains to photography as much as it pertains to writing fiction.