Does a Photograph Need a Caption

Bob Grundy-Leavers Lace
Bob Grundy-Leavers Lace

As a young photographer, I had foolishly decided that photographs should stand on their own and do not need descriptions, however as I got older I also got wiser. This is a portrait of Bob Grundy, Bob worked at Leavers Lace for over 25 years and he looks the part. One look and you know that he works on machines like this his whole life. Does the image become more important when you know that not only has Bob worked on this machine for over 35 years, but that his father worked on it for over 40 years, and that his grandfather worked on it for over 40 years? Does it change the image when you realize that Bob grew up literally in his father’s shadow, working on this machine since he was able to work and that his father did the same with his grandfather? Is the image more important when you realize that Bob and his ancestors have been on this machine since it was new in 1900? Does it change your perception when I tell you that Leavers Lace is finished and Bob no longer works there? It certainly changes the image for me, and I shot it. Bob and his ilk will be missed since this was the last lace manufacturer left in the United States. Do photographs need descriptions? You decide.

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IS THE GLASS HALF FULL OR HALF EMPTY

IS THE GLASS HALF FULL OR HALF EMPTY

PERSPECTIVE-a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.

I have a vivid memory of myself as a child getting “the” talk from my father. We were at the Newport Creamery and I must have been complaining about something when he pushed a water glass at me. He asked if it was half empty or half full, it was both. The conversation stuck with me and made me realize that one can choose a perspective and be proactive rather than get pushed into a corner and be reactive. So much of how we approach our lives is about our perspective, our attitude as to how we approach our work. As a photographer, I am essentially forced to be an open, creative person. Assignments differ so much from day to day and I must make immediate real time decisions. I still, however, must walk out having met expectations of both myself and my clients. A few years ago, I was thinking about this while working for a very large corporate client who was in the throes of severe downsizing. The morale of the employees was in a chaotic and confused state and I decided to see if I could help. My concept was to allow employees the opportunity to see how important they, and their work was to themselves and their client. I’m thinking about this now because we are all going to come through this pandemic and start fresh reestablishing old and new relationships to get our businesses back on track. So, what does that look like?  How will you be approaching a time when everyone wants to move forward? I suggest that the answer is in our shared sense of story and how we can tell those stories to change perspectives. The accompanying images allowed employees to view themselves not through their own eyes but through the eyes of all the participating viewers and this bit of distance allowed them to see the good they were doing in a broader and more positive way. Sometimes it’s good to step away and view where we are, this alone can create a more positive perspective. Choosing a perspective is choosing a direction and all of us will be faced with that dilemma soon. what will your perspective be?

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