October 22, 2012 § Leave a comment
I enjoyed working on this project, for many different reasons. Not only did it bring me closer to a fascinating subject, I also felt more comfortable interacting with her because she was a doctor. This was a situation, I believe, in which my background helped establish a connection.
My interest in healthcare, especially rural health care, stems from my dad who is a family practitioner in my home town. It’s pretty rural there too, and while I’ve never really had an interest in becoming a part of the medical field, I’ve always wanted to explore the role of doctors in their communities. Family practitioners often become the most important medical professional in a person’s life, yet, in my experience, they appear to be the least appreciated, by hospitals, insurance agencies and sometimes patients. On a daily basis they must balance seeing large numbers of people while devoting the time and compassion each person deserves. Now, as insurance costs rise for doctors and pay little on behalf of patients, private practitioners are moving away from independent practices to join with hospitals. This, in turn, pulls them from their country offices to the city, making it increasingly difficult for rural families to find doctors in their area.
Dr. Tinker has established her place in the small community and continues to remain independent, preferring to work closely with the people of Fayette. Running her practice out of a wing of the town’s refurbished hospital, she is one of the last independently owned family practitioners. She owns her own space, pays her employees, finances her own insurance costs and does the hiring and firing. Perhaps this is not be particularly remarkable to many people, but it’s something I have seen disappear in my dad’s life and in the lives of many other doctors who could not afford to remain on their own. Despite the demands of maintaining her business, she also continues to make house calls, though not in the sense of W. Eugene Smith’s Country Doctor. Her house calls are made only to the elderly, whose age typically becomes an obstacle to their clinic visits.
I wasn’t able to spend as much time with her as I would have liked. In less than two days I was able to cover her making her house calls and working in the clinic, but there were several shots I felt I missed, leaving me with that horrible sick feeling with which I’m sure every photographer is familiar. Also, the first meeting felt a little set up even after telling her multiple times that what I wanted to do was only what she would normally be doing. But in the end, I felt I got enough of the shots I needed to tell the story. Originally my plan hadn’t been to build a multimedia, so I feel I still have some editing work to do before it’s polished for publication, maybe play around with color (just for you Grant and Roxie), but for now it’s posted on my Vimeo site.
I am so thankful for getting the chance to work with Dr. Tinker, who was amazingly open to me telling her story.
October 10, 2012 § Leave a comment
For my One-Day Shoot I decided to go to the Jesse James Rodeo in Kearney, Missouri. This accomplished two things for me; it let me explore cowboy culture a little more before the summer was out, and it got me out of Columbia…two hours out of Columbia. I loved every minute of the escape. Except for those few moments of panic that I wasn’t getting everything I needed. And in fact I did walk away feeling I had missed some shots, but that’s typical for just about every shoot I think.
I was anxious about this project since it was to be event coverage, and looking for that five cents of string within the event, that storyline that would tie all our images together. The initial plan was to go in and follow the story of a cowboy who travels from rodeo to rodeo in the area (even better would have been in the country) while also shooting the peripheral activity. I did try to accomplish this, but the story took on its own life after I (and the rest of the class) looked through the images. What started as a story of one man, became an essay on cowboy life, which, to me, is much more interesting. I love the finished product. One of my biggest regrets is not finding that overall and not taking a picture of the arena after everyone had left. I failed to follow the “arrive early, stay late” credo in its entirety. I also failed to stay within the shooting limit and shot well above 300. This was due to a combination of things; my attempt at capturing action and having the camera set to rapid fire, my desire to try new/different techniques while still getting the “safe” shots, and boredom. I was there all day and was keeping myself entertained.
For this assignment I wanted to push myself, to get closer and to not let my self-consciousness get in the way of my ability to take the pictures I wanted. I also had a couple of other goals in mind including practicing unconstricted awareness and viewing the world from different perspectives. So often I fall into the trap of anticipating the shots I want and getting only the cliches that permeate our understanding of the world. Don’t get me wrong, this event was chalk full of cliches, which made my efforts all the more important. I did record some of the stereotypical cowboy pictures, but like Rita said, sometimes you just have to take that expected picture and be done with it. So I did. For the most part I did a fair job of not allowing my expectations get the better of my work, but I still have a long way to go. I worked hard to be bold as well. When I realized that my contact for the event would be shuffling me from one “interview” to the next rather than helping me find a family or person who fit the description I gave him I changed direction…literally.
I first noticed Justin Williams as he walked over to the shoots just before the rodeo started. He nodded to a few friends and said hello before beginning to change. He carried a dirty black duffel bag over his shoulder and was older than the rest of the riders, scruffy, looking like he had just rolled out of bed and was still recouping from the night before (which in fact he was I later learned). He also looked like he had done this before. As my contact led me toward the announcer stand where I was to interview the announcer himself, I turned around and headed in the opposite direction to talk with the cowboy I hoped would give me my story. I walked up as he was changing (bold move #1) and asked if he was participating in the rodeo. He said yes, and that he rides bareback. I asked if he would mind me following him the rest of the rodeo (bold move #2) and he said sure. I’m always shocked when people say yes for some reason. I guess I expect the worst. But it worked out well. In the end I met some great people, hung out at a rodeo all day, and got a few more story ideas. Below is the rest of the essay.