“The passing of every old man or woman means the passing of some tradition, some knowledge possessed by no other; consequently, the information that is to be gathered, for the benefit of future generations, must be collected at once or the opportunity will be lost for all time. It is this need that has inspired the present task.” Edward S. Curtis
Videographer Paul Lamprill, 70, finds inspiration and confirmation in 19th century photographer Edward Curtis’s zeal to document pre-colonial traditions of Native American tribes.
Lamprill, a new Athens resident, has brought his documentary film and videographic recording service, Tell Your Story, to the area and is reaching out to senior organizations such as the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) in hopes of showing others a new way to preserve life stories.
Inspired by the Oral History Archive project in New Zealand while he was living there, Lamprill started Tell Your Story, documenting people he knew whose stories he wanted to preserve. The project took a more personal turn when his brother died, and he realized how little visual and auditory documentation of his life was available.
“In trying to gather information for his eulogy I realized that there existed no recording of his voice, his laughter, or his story telling,” says Lamprill. Part of his motivation for pursuing this project along with respecting the stories of others and feeding his creative nature is “compensation for my own previous neglect.”
Lamprill believes the advancing digital age has the world on the cusp of a transition that will see the disposal of tangible reminders of the past. As people become more used to storing their lives in cyber clouds, boxes of photos and scrapbooks will become meaningless.
Today’s seniors “will have an old suitcase of stuff that’s going to be their legacy,” says Lamprill. That legacy will be useless, or even a nuisance to younger generations used to carrying their lives around on a microchip. “Younger people don’t value the physical images.”
However, an upside to the mass availability of digital photography, he notes is that we now have ample technology to save memories. Generations past, including Boomers, had limited access to audio and video recordings. Today, Lamprill uses both to create oral histories. By using old photographs, audio recording and video interviews Lamprill is able to compose poignant movies that become immediate family treasures.
“I created Tell Your Story as an opportunity to not only preserve an individual’s unique characteristics, but to also generate an almost interactive experience for friends and family.”
For a generation whose personal histories have largely been preserved in limited static images, Lamprill’s videography project adds a new dimension to capturing memories. In time, these documents may transcend the journey down memory lane and become a historical record of a bygone era.
Lamprill explains that “The digital video is the best possible medium for today’s environment. Electronic files will not degrade as will old photos, books, or documents.” Likewise, he says, “Video recordings can be seen as supplemental to a written legal will or last wishes. Who would contest or doubt the intent of grandma waving her finger at the camera as she declares that she does not want the old green sofa to go to second cousin Boris!”
Born and raised in Wales, UK, Lamprill has been a US resident for more than 30 years. Having lived all over the world in places as varied as Singapore, Mexico, and Zambia, Lamprill says that he settled in Athens in 2022 at the suggestion of a friend.
“To my delight many who call themselves Athenians came from somewhere else. it’s a wonderful little melting pot.”
As a contribution to his newfound community, Lamprill will be leading a class for OLLI on Monday, August 14, at noon at 850 College Station Road. The former teacher will share the details of his project and show others how to incorporate his ideas into similar projects of their own. He will discuss the need for this type of project as well as techniques for asking questions, filming, putting a subject at ease and getting the best video footage.
Although Tell Your Story is primarily a way for families to connect and save memories, Lamprill also sees this endeavor as a cultural project.
“I do this to make a social contribution,” says Lamprill, who can be reached at TYSvideograph@gmail.com.
Kelly Capers is a freelance writer who lives with her family in Madison County.
A Graphic Memoir
My Life in Fish: One Scientist’s Journey
By Gary D. Grossman, PhD, Reviewed by Betsy Bean
Like so many Boomers in recent years, Gary Grossman, a professor emeritus of animal ecology at the University of Georgia, wanted to write a memoir for his two grown children. But he had another purpose in mind also.
“I wanted a wide range of science-oriented readers, from middle school to retired, to know what it’s like to be an academic scientist in the recent past as well as today,” he says. Although a published poet and author of short fiction, the memoir is self-published and getting high praise from Grossman’s academic colleagues, with one writing “this should be required reading for all graduate students,” while a well-known ecologist has ordered the book for all his graduate students.
What makes the book so interesting to this liberal arts reader is that it’s a graphic memoir with illustrations by a comic book artist who skillfully guides you through the text. And Grossman’s straight forward narrative doesn’t shrink from the truth. He shares the good, the bad and the ugly about his childhood and some of the cut-throat battles that academe is known for.
While many of us may look back with rose-colored glasses or be reluctant to share certain information about our family, Grossman, an only child, is very honest in his portrayal of his suicidal mother, absent father, quarreling relatives, and several stints in foster care because of the chaos.
But there was love, some good teachers, the welfare system, a high draft number, his own intelligence, and a deep love of nature that combined to help him survive and begin to thrive in college. He reminds us that he could go to college because of California’s tuition-free higher education system at the time, and that, unlike students today, he could support himself in his low-wage job as a part-time salad maker.
Following post-doctoral research and marriage, Grossman landed his dream job at UGA in 1981. He writes that “Professorial life in the ‘80s was good…” with grant money and hard-working students eager to learn. “Life was pretty damn satisfying.” By the ‘90s and into the 2000s, though, some things changed for the worse with fierce clashes over appointments, re-appointments, and the filing of grievances.
The black and white sketches by Ryan Tavarez, a comic book artist based in Pontiac, Mich., capture the many emotions embedded in Grossman’s engaging memoir, whether anger, sadness, despair, or happiness, contentment, and triumph.
Recently retired, Grossman’s many creative endeavors, including sculpture and music, are showcased on his website, garygrossman.net where his memoir is available for purchase.