Monday, February 28, 2011

Super Mamika

Image by Sacha Goldberger

A few years back, French photographer Sacha Goldberger realized that his 91-year old Hungarian grandmother ("mamika") was lonely and depressed. So he proposed taking her portrait, the result being that it is plainly evident how Mr. Goldberger feels about his Mamika. He adores her.

Image by Sacha Goldberger

To say the series of photos produced by Sacha and his Mamika were therapeutic for his grandmother, Frederika, is an understatement. She had become something of a sensation in her 90th decade, with all of her humor and joy back where it should be- front and center.

Now I ask you, wouldn't it be a blast for your facility to do something similar? I'm sure that it would be possible to find a photographer willing to volunteer their time and talents to do the photos in exchange for some free advertising. Or an art student or accomplished amateur. With well-photographed pictures, you could produce a calendar or series of greeting cards as a fundraiser for your facility. The portraits wouldn't even necessarily need to be as elaborately staged as Super Mamika's portraits, maybe a plain backdrop (like the flag in the photo below) with just the right props. You could have a calendar theme of your choosing so maybe one year the residents participating could be super heros, maybe the next they could portray favorite movie characters or reenact famous paintings or historical events. Perhaps the theme could be of past professions or dream jobs, maybe funny takes on facility programs and activities.

Just imagine the discussions you could have with your residents as you decide at Resident Council whether or not to pursue this activity. Imagine the discussions as you brainstorm for themes. What kind of stories would your residents tell during their photo shoot, for newsletter articles, during reminiscence groups? Would you not love to be a fly on the wall as your resident shows off and talks about their photo(s) and experiences with their family members?

Image by Sacha Golderberger

Of course you have to do all of the photo releases and consents. Above all it would be absolutely mandatory that the dignity of your residents be maintained- something most Activity Directors do naturally. The resident models should have capacity and should have as much creative input into their portraits as possible. Each resident model should, I feel, have final say as to which photo(s) would be published. Not the family, not the facility, not the Activity Director-- the resident.

I've listed some websites for you to check out (click on the link, not the icon). Some are strictly fundraising, some are not. As a disclaimer, I have not done business with any of these sites and am not being paid to promote them- I'm simply listing some possible resources. Of course you can and should check out local print shops but these sites should be able to give you a starting point as far as pricing and possibilities.

Yearbox Custom Calendar Printing has a variety a calendar styles and of course the more you buy the cheaper they are per calendar.
Create Photo Calendars - Scroll down the page a bit for a nicely priced annual calendar.

Shutterfly has a variety of calendars, cards, and other products for you to customize. has more kinds of customizable items such as CDs & DVDs, cookbooks, poetry books, and photo books.

So those are just a few resource- hope they give you lots of ideas. When you are looking at pricing, the calendars that are stapled instead of spiral bound are way cheaper.

For more photos of Mamika check out Eugene's blog where I originally stumbled across Mamika (not literally, of course) by clicking here. Mamika has a Facebook page as well as one on MySpace.  Sacha Goldberger also has a website. It will be helpful if you speak Hungarian. Just sayin'.

Susan Adcox, on her blog Susan's Grandparents Blog,  raises the question as to whether or not these photos exploit Frederika rather than empower her. Click here to go to her post and read her comments. She refers her readers to Peter Zander's photos of seniors. These too are beautiful photos  and  you can see them by clicking here.

I like both of the photographers' photos. Frederika clearly has capacity to decide if she wants to dress in silver spandex and be posted all over the web. She is clearly celebrating who she is and has a rich enough sense of humor to celebrate the silliness of it all. Go girl! Zander's photos speak to an entirely different aspect of being elderly and are appealing on a deeper more personal level.

What do you think? Click on "Comments" below and share your thoughts.

Thanks for stopping by today.

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