Over the last few years of this business, I've dabbled in an assortment of work--longing to learn everything and struggling to master anything. In the creative industry, most of us are on a constant and evasive quest to "arrive", to discover who exactly we are and should be as artists. Out of all the fields of photography, all the outlets for graphic design, the prints, the packaging, the branding, the markets--where do I fall?
In my drive to be different, I started looking for people and stories that were left untold. My feeds are filled with the starry-eyed lovers, the well-dressed couples, the dapper youth. And for good reason! There is beautiful work being created revolving around this market. But what about the other beautifuls? What about those lovely lines painted on weathered skin by the years of laughing and living? What about those women growing gracefully gray, the old men who wore big glasses and over-sized, knit sweaters before they were cool? I want to tap into the stories of those who are still starry-eyed fifty years into marriage.
But how do you go up to an eighty-year-old and say, "Hey, you look old...Can I take your picture?"
So I began to brainstorm what threads could tie together this seemingly abstract idea. A bit of research later and the answer was too perfect: My grandparents' generation, all those born between 1925 and 1942--they're named the Silent Generation.
This window of 73 to 95-year-olds has been given a couple titles, including the Builders and the Traditionalists, but the phrase "The Silent Generation" was coined in a Time Magazine article in 1951. The article described their childhood as a quiet and guarded one, where they were taught to only speak when spoken to. And for the most part, they grew into that teaching. They were the hard workers, the diligent farmers and builders that acted on principle and carried out their duties. They were less about changing the system and more about working within the system. They were the soldiers shipped off for Vietnam even when the next generation would berate them once home again. They were the faithful and the silent.
In an instant, all the untold stories of family farms, wartime heroes, savored recipes, and cultural shifts flooded through my mind. I had no idea what this would look like or what I would do with the stories I heard and captured, and I still am not entirely sure. But that's part of the thrill.
Here's what I know: I would love to tell as many stories of the Silents as I am able. There will be a mixture of words and images, attempting to capture who they are and what has shaped them. It may start as a blog post series, but may one day be available in print. Stay tuned!
I would love to hear your thoughts and comments below! If you are an artist or author interested in collaborating on this project, I would love to connect. If you know someone from this generation whose story needs to be told, please email me a summary or description of them and their story. I would love to expand my contacts and contexts!