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All Eyes - Reporting with a camera

An inside look at a story about the eloquence of love



"Images and written texts not only tell us things differently, they tell us different things."

It's a great day to be a journalist when, on a routine daily assignment, something unexpected and beautiful crosses your path.

Like Bob and Nancy.

A stroke left Nancy with aphasia and she can only say one word: "baa." It did not affect her intelligence. Bob had only been dating Nancy for 10 months when she had the stroke, and has stood by her for nearly 8 years since. They were just so cute together.

So what to do with a love story?

I told Bob and Nancy's story in video, stills and text. Each tell us different things about the same special couple.

Professor and filmmaker David MacDougall wrote that "images and written texts not only tell us things differently, they tell us different things."

I also took two portraits. One taken with a digital camera, and one with a 1920's style billow camera on film. The lighting set up was the same but the process is completely different.

With a digital camera you talk, click/flash, talk, click/flash, talk, click/flash. It is dynamic. Often the camera is in front of your face as you talk. The camera and strobes are at the center of it.

With an old view camera, it is static. Everything slows down. You talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, move the dark slide from the film holder, talk, talk, click/flash.

A portrait is really a performance between a photographer and people photographed. Which is cool. It is fun and revealing to see what people choose to show for a camera.

The digital picture was a kiss. They were hamming it up and having fun. (click/flash, talk, click/flash, talk....)

The large format film picture came when Bob asked Nancy if her arm was getting tired ("baaa!"). He quietly took her hand in his to help her arm rest as I was taking the extra time necessary to get the big, old camera ready for another sheet of film. I didn't talk at all or tell them when I was about to make the picture. It is a quieter image from a quieter process.

You may have an opinion, but neither is right or wrong.

The video shows how Nancy dances in a way is difficult to show in text. The text gives context and a thoughtfulness that is hard to communicate in video.

I stumbled on McDougall's quote about a week after this story published. The more I think about it, the cooler it gets.

John Pendygraft
Twitter/Instagram: @pendygraft
Tampa Bay Times


Read the original story 'Bob and Nancy know what true love sounds like' (published February 3, 2016)


[Last modified: Tuesday, February 16, 2016 11:58am]


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