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.

The Empathy Project - IX

Back in September I had introduced my Empathy Project. The idea behind the 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 interview was perhaps the most difficult one I have had to edit. We spoke for about 15 minutes and, frankly, there was very little I felt compelled to edit out.....but I had to to get it down to a reasonable listening time to go with one photo.

This gentleman is 95 years old and speaks truly eloquently about the many events he has witnessed in his life, from living through the depression to watching history unfold as a guard at the Nuremberg War Crime Trials at the end of World War II. He has truly led a remarkable life!

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 as a group.

© Howard Grill

© Howard Grill


(If you are an email subscriber to the blog, the audio will not come along with the please visit the on-line blog post if you would like to hear it, at

May I Take Your Photograph

One of the things that I have difficulty with is asking someone I don't know out 'on the street' to take their photo. For the last several weekends, the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival has been ongoing. It was cloudy on Sunday and so I thought it would be a good time to go to make photographs. My goal was to ask people (well, the actors anyway) if I could take their photo, so as to get used to just asking. They were all happy to oblige and I started to feel more comfortable with the process. I'm not sure though if that will translate to feeling comfortable asking strangers on the street, but it's a start!

© Howard Grill

© Howard Grill


This lovely woman, who was was selling parasols, was one of many who were glad to oblige. I liked the idea of placing myself in a position where the lines of the parasol seemed to emanate from her.