Sunday, January 23, 2011

No Greater Love, by Carol Guzy- The Washington Post

The best picture stories to me are the ones that move you, make you feel something intense. It can be happiness, anger, or sorrow. And I love stories of people overcoming obstacles, or just having the strength to do something I don't think I could.

This story, "No Greater Love," I came across as I was looking at the Washington Post website. The short little summary under the thumbnail caught my attention. It was about a 104-year-old woman taking care of her 92-year-old bedridden sister. That was enough of a story to drag me in.

The multi-chapter piece that followed just broke my heart when I watched. I actually ended up crying at the end of both chapters I watched. There were several aspects of this story that I thought made it better than just a slideshow of still photographs.

The audio was one of the first things to jump out at me. I honestly feel like that was the stronger part of the piece. There were times it was hard to understand what they were saying, but you could tell that was what it sounded like. These two very old women had a hard time communicating at times. The quality of the audio was flawless though, both the interviews and the natural sound that was recorded. The nat sound was actually what made the story seem more intimate to me. You really felt like you were there. There was so much of it built into the piece that it created an atmosphere, and it was woven together beautifully.

The story also had a strong central character and a compelling story. This woman, Classie, had been taking care of her bedridden sister for over 20 years, when she herself had health issues and was over 100 years old! That's quite a strong woman. It gave the story a central focus, and the relationship between the sisters just added to it. I think stories like this resonate with all types of people.

I am always amazed when a photographer gets such intimate access with their subjects. It shows a lot about their personality, determination, and how committed they are to the story. I appreciated that the photographer continued with the story of Classie even after her sister had passed. That clearly wasn't the end. Guzy followed Classie as she then focused on her own health issues, and was even present when she finally passed. The level of trust and respect she received from the whole family, not just Classie allowed her to do that. I think that commitment, telling the story all the way to the end, left me feeling like I understood the whole story better. I would have wondered what became of Classie if it had only been told in the first chapter. The completeness impressed me.

I think all the reasons I liked this story are good aspects for me to think about when finding my own stories. I think finding a story I have a strong emotional connection to will help me stay focused and dedicated. I think finding that personal connection will make it much more rewarding than just a class assignment.

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