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  1. #1
    Stephanie Brim's Avatar
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    Input on a possible project: Electrolux Closing

    I've been thinking. This usually gets me in trouble, but I'll go on.

    We have a lot of characters in this town. A lot of good people. Those people are going to be out of work next year when the Electrolux plant closes in town.

    The one here makes washers and dryers. It used to employ almost a couple thousand people. Over the last year, layoffs have depleted that number to around 800, maybe 850. My husband was one of those who got the ax. He, luckily, went on to find a good job at another place in town. Some others aren't so lucky.

    I kinda want to tell their stories; those of the people who work or worked at the plant and those of the families that they have that are also inevitably affected by such a huge employer leaving a small town.

    Large project. Huge scale. Scared as hell to start down the road to do this. Need some encouragement, I suppose. The fact that I'm thinking of using 4x5" film isn't helping my nervousness.

    What say you, APUGers? My husband will be the first portrait taken. Then my dad, and the rest of the 5 or so poeple in my family who still work there. Then the rest of those I know who used to. Then anyone those people can point me to who can sit still for up to 5 seconds. As many as I can.

    There's no other photographer doing this to my knowledge.

    I think what I'm most scared of is not doing these people justice with my skills. I still have a lot to learn. So...how crazy am I?
    No idea what's going to happen next, but I'm hoping it involves being wrist deep in chemicals come the weekend.

  2. #2
    SuzanneR's Avatar
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    Do it... those are important stories to tell... do it!!

  3. #3

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    Excellent learning experience, and coming from a small myself I'll sure you'll have plenty of encouragement from your neighbors and friends.

    As Suzanne stated...important stories.

    Mike

  4. #4
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    I agree with Suzanne do it.

    Back in 2000/1 I worked in a sugar beet factory, which had opened in 1923, and just after Christmas we were told it had one more campaign (season) left then it was being closed down. I got permission from the management and the following year documented the site, particularly the various parts of the process. I was lucky because I went in and always worked with the shift team I'd been part of.

    So far I've only printed maybe 12 images from 25+ rolls of 120, and a handful of 5x4's, but the value (as historical document) of the images becomes more important with time and they will be going to a new museum which being set up in the town.

    Unfortunately I didn't have time to document the people, I was working full time elsewhere, but many were near to retirement and had good packages, others moved to associated companies but all were given generous financial compensation.

    Ian

  5. #5

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    hi stephanie

    i'm just another voice in the choir.
    do it, and don't get too hard on your self
    since you are just starting out making 4x5 portraits.
    after the first few you will have more practice and you will be happier with the outcome .

    sounds like a great project!

    john

    ps do your shutters have a flash sync ?
    you might consider the camera on a tripod and a weak flash as a fill ..

  6. #6
    Stephanie Brim's Avatar
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    That's a really good idea, but I think the only one that does have flash sync is the Geronar in the Copal 1. I'm going to try to get another lens, possibly a 135 or so, and maybe I'll look for the flash when I'm looking for that.

    My other lighting gear is pretty basic: two shop lights with high-wattage florescent bulbs. Haven't even made stands yet. I have ideas, though. I thought about actually purchasing some lights for this project, but I don't know what yet.
    No idea what's going to happen next, but I'm hoping it involves being wrist deep in chemicals come the weekend.

  7. #7
    Bob Carnie's Avatar
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    Stephanie

    One of the most important factors in good photographic work is picking topics that you are familiar with, and documenting over a long period of time.

    An example is one of my clients Dr Mark, in Canada there were no house call Doctors. He decided he would like to document his house bound patients , so he started doing house calls with a 4x5 camera.
    .

    12 years later he has moved his practice to a completely mobile one , he does house calls only, the ministry of health has provided an ongoing budget to fund a nurse practitioner, a nurse, a social worker, a housecleaning worker, and a administrator all under Dr Marks supervision working as a team with elderly patients in their home.

    Mark has been featured in a National Film Board Movie which won a Gemmini Award called House Calls, he has spoken more times on this subject that he is now an highly regarded spokesperson for this topic in Canada. He has been featured in national and regional newspaper articles promoting his work.

    To date he has had two photographic shows and right now I am preparing a Solo Show of his work for the Royal Ontario Museum, titled House Calls.
    this show will hang for 6 months and thousands are expected to see this show.

    My point to this long story is that you should go for it as others have also encouraged you.. Shoot 4x5 , get releases, and keep at it. There is so many possibilities for you to persue and judging by the current economy, you would be photographing and telling stories of very important issue that is close to you , your friends and actually all of us.

    Marks , hero btw is Dorthea Lange who took a few good photos of a topic that needed to be shown.

    Bob

    good luck

  8. #8
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    I'll add another vote to the "Just do it" chorus, and a caveat, and practice this with the folks you already know well: a single portrait photo, unless an environmental portrait (I don't know what you're planning to do for settings on these photos, but please don't do Avedon-esque plain white backdrops), doesn't tell enough of the story of each person. Interview the folks you photograph, and document their stories along with the images. Oral history is as important as the photographs, and will make them so much more meaningful ten, twenty, or fifty years down the road when most of those people have moved on or died. Practice interviewing with your friends and family first, so you get used to pulling good details out of people (get them to talk about stuff you know about them, and remember to dig deep into any ear-catching details they sprinkle in. Don't just let those things go by unremarked or un-investigated). Use details from each previous interview as a springboard for questions in the next one. Oh, and get yourself a good recorder and microphone of some kind. Trying to take notes while interviewing is a long dead (and extremely difficult) art.

  9. #9
    Rick A's Avatar
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    If you feel that it is important to tell this story, then buy all means, you must tell it. Do not worry about your skill level, worry only about taking the shot. Please share it with us here as you go. I look forward to seeing the results.
    You might even see about the possibility of grant money to fund it as a social project.

    Rick

  10. #10
    Whiteymorange's Avatar
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    Go for it. If you tell their story, however imperfectly, you both win.

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