Photo Essay Proposal

The challenges the elderly face is a topic and issue that that I want people to know about. I have a heart for the elderly and feel that while they have reached a point in their lives where they have such wisdom, knowledge, and stories; there are three reoccurring challenges that affect every elderly person: loneliness, boredom, and helpless. As someone who is interested in communications, I feel compelled to work with the elderly to tell their stories and then use these stories to communicate the importance of bettering the lives of the elderly.

This photo essay assignment actually came at the perfect time because I have already begun my work collecting accounts from the elderly. I have been holding interviews for the past few weeks at Gentilly Gardens in which I try to steer away from the biographical information and instead try to gather accounts on their lives before they moved to he assisted living home and how their lives have evolved since.

I have great material, but I’m missing that vital visual communication that will really bring this documentary-type project to life. Pairing a collection of interview stories with a photo essay will further promote my mission to raise awareness on the challenges the elderly face.

The stories I have already gathered touch on the emotional subjects of loneliness, boredom, and helplessness, but I have found a reoccurring theme that hobbies are essential to combat these challenges. Hobbies give the elderly a sense of accomplishment, which fights helplessness, alleviates boredom, and can be used to connect with other people reducing the feeling of loneliness.

For my photo essay I want to photograph the hobbies that so greatly help the residents. For example, the first lady I interviewed kept herself busy making bead necklaces. This pastime also allowed her to connect with one of the caregivers who often stops by her room to compare notes on beads. Another lady is disciplined to emailing her extended family as often as possible and has rigged up a complete computer station to her television. The lack of hobbies also seems to be directly correlated to residents having a harder time adapting to the assisted living home. For example, one man recently moved to Gentilly Gardens, leaving behind a large woodworking studio where he made clocks and lamps. In his interview he provided many quotes that touched on the despair and helplessness he feels since he thinks he will never be able to do what he loves again. Another woman said she did not have any hobbies and admitted to often feeling lonely.

My game plan is to continue to hold the interviews, but simply start bringing along my camera! I will inform them that my documentary should also contain visual elements, and that I want to photograph their projects and hobbies. My main goal is to not just photograph a completed project or piece of art, but show the resident interacting with the hobby or explaining it. I will also shoot the bedrooms of each resident, regardless of what their hobby is or if they even have a hobby, to reveal their personality.

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One Response to Photo Essay Proposal

  1. Scott Bryant says:

    This is really good, Grace. Stay in touch as you work on this and let me know however I can help.

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