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When I die there should be no sad songs for me…

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In September of 2017, on the cusp of my fortieth birthday, I set a new decade resolution to spend more time with my ninety-three year old grandfather. As a documentary photographer, with an interest in communities, I asked my grandfather if he’d like to do a portrait and interview project in his retirement community. My grandfather said, “yes.”

My goals for this project were simple. I wanted to have quality time with my grandfather, I wanted to honor and appreciate this last chapter of his life and the community that he chose to spend it with. When I asked him who he wanted to focus on for the project, my grandfather chose the coffee group that he religiously meets with every morning except for Sunday.

The result of that project was a book of portraits and interview excerpts called The Coffee Group that I shared with my grandfather’s community in summer of 2018.

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On March 19th, 2019, my grandfather, Robert Harper, passed away at 5:30am. He was the foundation of our family and he will be greatly missed. I will be forever grateful for the time I had working with him on this project, and his words are a comfort as we figure out how to recalibrate our family without our navigator. Here is my grandfather’s portrait and interview from the book:

Robert Harper, Geography Professor/ Author

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Sally and I met working on the high school paper. Working on the paper was really the first time that boys and girls had a chance to work together. Everything was separated, so none of us had any experience with the other sex in a social way. At Christmas that first semester Sally and I were working together, she invited me to go on a hayride sponsored by her club. Well, we went on the hayride and I was thrilled with her. But I was shy around girls, and really, adults too.

Afterward I was afraid if I called to ask her out she might say, “no,” or I might have to talk to her parents, and I didn’t want to do that. So I put it off and put it off. That’s when my best friend, George McCoy, locked me in the basement and said he wouldn’t let me out until I called her. But once that happened the dam broke and we were dating all the time.

I thought she was great. She was prickly, but we got along and I just liked being with her. She was my best friend. I was really thrilled when she put on a card one time, “The best thing I ever did was say, ‘I do.'”

My life was serendipity. It all just bubbled along. A wartime wedding and the GI Bill changed my life path. I enjoyed writing the textbooks. I enjoyed teaching. I enjoyed some of the work with organizations. I didn’t always succeed at stuff when I tried, but generally I did. I didn’t plan my life, but my life couldn’t have come out better, except that I wish Sally had lived longer, and I had lived not so long.

I was always kidding her, saying that I’d die and she’d marry some other guy. She pooh-poohed that. I certainly didn’t expect to be the one to live the longest. I don’t want to share my life anymore with anybody except her. I’m a one-woman man.

I don’t dream much, but when I dream I have almost never seen her in a dream. That doesn’t mean I don’t miss her, but I’m a pragmatist. My feeling is that when something happens, it happens. And when it’s over, it’s over, and there’s nothing you can do about it. So there’s no sense mourning about it all. You just have to go onto the next chapter.

I always was afraid of death because I didn’t think there was life after death, but now I’m to a point where it really doesn’t matter to me. When I die there should be no sad songs for me. I have had a good life. But I don’t want anybody trying to extend my life. There’s a difference between living and existing, and I don’t want to just exist.

I grew up in a religious, Republican family. Very traditional. Very conservative. Sally did too. But I think the University of Chicago changed our perspective. There was a lot of social concern and discussion of issues like that. Sally always was afraid she’d become a communist going to that school. But it changed our perspective on life. So once we rejected that old system, it was a matter of learning a new system.

I certainly have shifted from traditional Christianity to feeling that some kind of world religion will ultimately come out of this, and that a lot of religion is just superstition. When you think about how poorly most of the people have lived on the Earth, they were certainly looking for a world that was better than their lot. The poorer you were, the more you wanted.

I don’t really think that there’s life after death, but if there is, I hope they let us look down to see what’s going on in the world, because I think we’re at the beginning of a revolution that is going to change life as much as the agricultural revolution and the industrial revolution. I think this information data revolution is going to revolutionize your lives and the lives of your kids. It’s going to be a whole different ballgame.

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For more about my grandfather and how much he meant to our family:

https://paigegreenblog.com/2007/08/15/traditions/

https://paigegreenblog.com/2008/08/26/bathing-beauties/

https://paigegreenblog.com/2009/09/21/apple-dumplings-root-beer-saloon-my-grandparents-and-me/

https://paigegreenblog.com/2009/08/17/65-years-photos-for-my-blob-part-i/

https://paigegreenblog.com/2010/01/12/my-grandpa-will-always-be-my-favorite-santa/

https://paigegreenblog.com/2011/09/26/you-made-my-life/

https://paigegreenblog.com/2012/01/01/why-am-i-doing-this-again-best-of-2011/

https://paigegreenblog.com/2016/01/04/i-want-to-learn-how-to-drive-a-monster-truck-in-2016/

 

Freda Banks – film vs digital…

A couple of months ago I received an email from photographer Freda Banks saying she needed causal, natural portraits for her website that show she is artistic in a friendly and approachable manner.

I had never met Freda, I had only seen her beautiful work online, so when she answered the door looking like this…020paigegreenFreda5214-002239-R1-012I was immediately very excited and extremely intimidated.

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Very excited… because she wanted me to photograph with film, which is my most favorite way to photograph.

Extremely intimidated… because I always assume every photographer is more talented and knowledgeable than I am. So photographing other photographers means having to wrestle my brain into silent submission, at least enough so I can do the job I was hired to do.

001paigegreenFreda5214-002240-R1-002Also extremely intimidated… because Freda is stunningly beautiful with an incredible sense of style, which meant I felt this overwhelming pressure to take the most amazing photos of my life, in order to live up to this fun opportunity to play with film and with beauty.

031paigegreenFreda5214-002238-R1-008But because Freda really is artistic in a friendly and approachable manner, it didn’t take us long to feel comfortable with each other, allowing me to silence my overactive brain and focus instead on finding good light. We talked and played and talked and played, and before I knew it, three hours had passed, which is a long time to make one person model, so I reluctantly put away my cameras and we said good-bye.023paigegreenFreda5214-002239-R1-015

(All of the above photos were taken with medium format film.)

While I do love film, it was a long painful wait for the film scans to return… luckily I had a few digital files to tide me over until the film scans finally returned.

Digital photography is a wonderful tool and I am so grateful to have it, but when given the opportunity to shoot with film… it is really hard for me to put down the film cameras and pick up the digital ones again.

I just love the sensory experience of photographing with film cameras. I love the sound of the shutter and the crisp, yet ethereal way the world looks through film lenses.

But film is slow, it is expensive and it can be unpredictable. You don’t always know what the results will be like and you have to wait a long time to find out… which for me translates to: exciting and risky (like the hard-to-get, tall cute guy, with big glasses and mismatched socks, who I married.)

Digital is fast, it is inexpensive (if you don’t factor in your editing time and you don’t upgrade your equipment every 9 months) and you know immediately if you got the photo or not… which for me translates to: boring and predictable.

But the advantage of shooting both digital and film is that I get to show a direct comparison between the two and you can decide for yourself which you prefer.

Below are examples of similar photos taken in both digital and film, with no retouching and very minimal color alterations on the digital files…

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digital                                                                              filmfreda1

digital                                                                              film freda2

digital                                                                              film

I admit, it’s a really close call… but film still wins my heart. What do you think?

My own blog doesn’t recognize me…

It has been so long since I have logged on to my blog that I had to generate a new password.

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I used to think in blog posts…. Now I think in facebook captions, although Instagram is slowly creeping up behind.

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But I miss my blog, just like… I miss reading books (that are more than 20 pages long and consist of a topic other than cars and trucks,)

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I miss seeing friends…

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I miss walking my dog…

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And I miss going on dates with my husband (damn, I should have put that first.)

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Somewhere along the way life got busy and I just don’t have enough time in the day for it anymore, hence I am starting this post at 1:40am.

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But, as it turns out, I also need the blog. I get so lost in the forest of making new work that I forget to look back and see which trail I took and how far I have come… And then the insecurity vines creep up and block my path forward.

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That is where I was today, lost in an editing forest, until the mail arrived (meaning: Arann walked in my office and flung a Priority Mail envelope at me.) When I opened the envelope, I got to see some of my portrait work in print, in Bike magazine. A magazine that hired me to take one portrait…

vanessa(Executive Director of NorCal High School Cycling League, Vanessa Hauswald)

And then because they liked that portrait they hired me to take another portrait…

strava(Strava Co-founder and CEO, Michael Horvath.)

And then they hired me to take another portrait…

paigegreenCharlieKelly62713-2001_1s(The Godfather of mountain biking, Charlie Kelly)

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It made me so happy to see photos of PEOPLE published for once that I remembered I had a blog and that I could actually record my excitement in a blog post. While I was digging for photos for that post, I found other portraits that I am proud of…

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(Chef and Restaurant Owner, Charlie Hallowell)

and then more portraits that I am proud of…

paigegreenBryantTerry72213-309(Chef and Author, Bryant Terry)

…and suddenly the forest was a little bit brighter.

paigegreenJelly72313-096(Co-founder/co-inventor of Twitter and Jelly, Biz Stone)

And the path forward was a little more clear.

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While I really enjoy all the other side projects I have been so lucky to work on… I really love photographing people the most.

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Taking really good portraits of people is very, very hard. And I still have a long way to go.

paigegreenTonyLagunitas42213-006(Lagunitas Founder, Tony Magee)

There are so many things to think about… not only the light, the exposure, the composition, but also making people feel comfortable, especially after they have just finished telling me how much they hate being photographed. (Food never tells me it hates to be photographed. And flowers just beg me not to stop taking photos.)

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Photographing people makes me nervous and sweaty… not in a bad lighting-fireworks-illegally-kind-of-way, but in a good exercise-my-brain-kind-of-way.

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It means I am being challenged. It means I am doing something I really care about. And that is the goal: Do more projects that challenge me and that I really care about.

000076840011(The Big Flip.)

My other goal is to hire an office assistant, so that the editing and book-keeping forest do not get over-grown and swallow me whole anymore. And so my blog can once again have a place in my life.

paigegreenChrisGruener41213-024(Publisher: Chris Gruener)

So if you know anyone looking for part-time work…

I need a very organized, hardworking, self-motivated, left-brained person (sorry no photographers please) who can help me for 10 hrs per week (hours are flexible) with: data entry, organizing files, returning emails, updating social media etc.

If you are interested, please send me an email detailing your approach to organizing and attach your resume to paige(@)paigegreen.com

Nici and Andy…

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I know I said I would just post one a day, for my Rollei Advent Calender, but I can’t do it. It is a struggle to only put up two. And really, I had to put two, because Andy is upset that he isn’t in more of the photos from my previous Montana blog posts… so Andy, this one’s for you.

I’m Back… and happy about it.

I am back from London and trying to climb out of my photo editing pile. I have lots and lots and lots of photos to work my way through… but in the meantime I am trying to balance my computer time, with some fun time. And this morning, although I promised myself I was going to work all day, I couldn’t resist an invitation to breakfast in Inverness to visit some of our friends and their new baby.

I wasn’t intending to take photos… it was just supposed to be a visit, but as soon as Edison woke up from his nap… without a word, Arann went to the car and came back with my camera… and so… I just couldn’t help it… but come on, how could you not take photos of this kid?

And really, I have a good excuse, he is literally the only baby boy I know. All of my friends and friends of friends are having girls…. so I needed some baby boy photos…. and these are some of my favorites.

This is Edison having his second plum ever…. fresh summer plums make for very happy and messy babies.

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