Capturing and Preserving Memories: Portraits of Alzheimer Family Caregivers by Raymond Holman Jr.
As Wendy L. Campell, President & CEO of the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association put it, “Calumet Photographic is in the business of capturing and preserving memories; the Alzheimer’s Association is also in the memory business.” That’s why Calumet Photographic Philadelphia is spearheading the Caregiver Project by Raymond Holman Jr., hoping that we can turn it into a nationwide project.
Calumet Photographic Philadelphia became involved in the project by donating the use of their classroom and rental equipment to use for portrait sessions, and donating a purple Nikon camera (the organization’s signature color) as an auction prize. A reporter from the Daily News sat in on the session and was so intrigued, that he stayed for three hours interviewing the caregivers for an upcoming story. Calumet’s sponsorship helped build credibility for Raymond’s project and also established a relationship with the Alzheimer’s Association.
We had the chance to speak with Raymond about how the project is going, how he has been personally affected by Alzheimer’s-dementia and how people can reserve a spot in his upcoming caregiver photography shoot at our Calumet New York location.
How instrumental was Calumet Philadelphia and Gregg McIlhenny in moving your project into its second phase?
Gregg was very instrumental in helping me. He quickly agreed to make the Philadelphia store available, and he contacted Calumet management regarding the use of the Manhattan location. On June 25, 2013 I captured portraits of family caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s-dementia. We ran overtime on that day, and Gregg was willing to keep the store open until we were done. I really appreciate his and Calumet Photographic’s willingness to support this project.
Moving forward with the project, what are your goals?
My intention for this project is to travel the country capturing portraits in every part of the United States, and hope to have major exhibits in museums and large galleries around the world as the project grows. I hope this will bring attention to the uniqueness of family caregivers and their willingness to help others in great need of assistance. My intention is to have a book published and produce a short motion documentary on family caregivers. I am looking for all forms of media, and financial (whether it be via grants, corporate or individual) support moving forward.
I had no idea until about a year ago of the magnitude of this disease. There is a misunderstanding that Alzheimer’s-dementia is an old-person disease, however they are discovering early symptoms in people in their late 20’s. And, there is no cure for it according to the medical field. I find that scary!
Also, when my father, “Big Ray,” was dealing with Alzheimer’s-dementia, I thought it was just about him not remembering names and faces and stuff like that. But what I have learned recently is that it can be a terrifying experience for the person affected by the different forms of Alzheimer’s-dementia.
However, my real focus is on the caregiver. This world would be really difficult without their existence. They are great warriors. Many family caregivers have died before the person they were taking care of.
You will be at our New York store on Saturday, July 13 photographing caregivers. How can people sign up for sittings and what are the times that you will be photographing?
By e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 215-205-7414. Although I encourage walk-ins on July 13, 2013, I would like people to contact me ahead of time so I have an idea how many people I can expect. My main desire is that the families of patients with caregivers come. I believe it is very important they connect with each other and share their stories.
Aside from this project, tell us a little bit about what your normal photographic work involves.
My background is in photojournalism. It was a hobby until I started working for the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily newspapers in 1989. I shoot editorial assignments, corporate annual reports, environmental portraits and wedding photography. I have a very special interest in wedding photography because it denotes a time in two people’s lives when love is very present.
To learn more about Raymond Holman Jr.’s project or how you can become involved you can stop by his blog (www.1raymondwholmansr.wordpress.com), call @ 215-205-7414, or e-mail him at email@example.com.
And, don’t miss these other great interviews on the Caregiver Project from Liberty City Press http://www.libertycitypress.net/people-article/387-an-eye-for-caring.html and this newscast from a local Philadelphia Fox News channel: