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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.

David Stein

Just the other day I was talking with a friend that I have known for some time (not really for the some time part, it just seems that way) and the topic of my grandfather came up in the conversation.  I had a very, very close relationship with my grandfather and he died in the early 80's.  I was born in 1958, so I was in my 20's at the time and have very adult memories of him, as well as childhood memories. It is amazing how old photographs can bring memories back!  And I realized that in the age of the internet nobody is ever totally gone in the sense of all memories being eradicated or in the sense of never being able to be found again if someone from later generations wants to find you.  But since he died in the 80's and before the internet era, he actually is nowhere to be found outside of memories and photos, which are fragile.  So now he will have an internet resting place and at least his picture can be found forever (is the internet forever?....well, I guess not if the hosting fees don't get paid, but then again there is the wayback machine that caches old pages).

So.....this is David Stein (born Berci Stein and given the name David by immigration).  He came to the United States in 1918, leaving his family behind in Europe with a plan to find opportunity and ultimately bring them to the US as well.   He worked and sent back money to bring over two of his brothers (I think it was two) but the rest decided to stay in Europe, where they all perished during World War II.  He opened a butcher shop in Newark, NJ where he raised three children.

He was an extraordinarily kind and amazing person and I could write a book about him...but this is just a blog.  I obviously never knew him when he was the age he is in this picture. But I think the photograph expresses his energy and his spirit.  And he was a pretty good looking guy! So there.....now he has his place in internet history so he can be found for generations to come.  So Google, go ahead and get David Stein in your search database!

David Stein

The Photo As Artifact

Needless to say, in addition to being artwork, photographs can also serve as artifacts.  In fact, I suspect that the vast majority of photos out in the world today are artifact, with only a small percentage of them being 'fine art'.  I think one can derive this from the fact that there are , are you ready, 300 million photos uploaded to Facebook DAILY!  I suspect that since the advent of digital photography the actual number of fine art photographs as a percentage of total photographs has taken a steep dive. But, of course, that is not to say that there isn't great importance to the photograph as an artifact from an earlier time. It's just that these artifacts tend to have personal meaning that often can't be appreciated by many others.  This blog has always been about fine art photography, but, as we start the new year, I thought I would share a photo that I recently ran across that is an artifact.  My artifact.

My father is 85 years old.  I bought him a computer about six or seven years ago so that he could send e-mails to his friends and family and spend some time 'Googling' topics of interest to him.  He still has that same computer.

A year or two after I got him the computer he decided to take a class at a local community college to become a bit more computer savvy (when he was working I remember him always using a slide rule....how far we have come).  He was given an assignment to scan a photograph and combine it was some text.  Recently, my mother found that assignment and gave it to me.  And so here is my artifact, in the form of my father's class assignment:

Jacob "Jack" Grill

"The picture insert above is that of me when I was a very young kid, who had just enlisted in the Army Air Corps.  The picture was taken in Fusa, Japan, which was a little village about forty miles north of Tokyo. The village was just outside Yokota Army Air Base.  This base was a huge facility being developed to handle the first jet fighter squadrons in Japan.

After eight weeks of basic training at Keesler Field, Mississippi, I was shipped overseas to be part of a group which was to repair radios being used on all sorts of propeller driven fighter planes and bombers.  I was never given any formal training in radio repair and there was no one on the base who had the time or experience to train a bunch of young soldiers who knew nothing about aircraft radio equipment.  In order to overcome this handicap, a Signal Corps first lieutenant was assigned to the repair shop to whip us into "repair shape".  He accomplished this task by giving us "cook books" which outlined the various things that could go wrong with radio equipment and how they could be repaired.  To everyone's surprise, within four months we had a smooth working group of about ten radio mechanics who fixed everything from soup to nuts in radio equipment"

My dad went on to become a Civil Engineer and was the Assistant Commissioner for the New York City Building Department for many years.  This is about the earliest photo I have ever seen of him.