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Gregg Segal November 24, 2011

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.

Bill and Carol Bates, Atlanta 2010

Gregg Segal (b.1964, United States) studied photography and film at the California Institute of the Arts. After detouring through film and an MFA from New York University in dramatic writing, Gregg returned to photography in 1994 with a writer’s sense of theme and irony. His photography has been recognized with awards from American Photography, Communication Arts, PDN and the Society of Publication Designers. Gregg’s portraiture is regularly featured in a wide array of publications including Time, Fortune, Esquire, ESPN, Dwell, German GQ, and Wired UK.

About the Photograph:

“This photograph of Bill and Carol Bates is from a series of portraits of people with Alzheimer’s. Each photograph combines a present-day portrait of a patient living with the illness and a projected image from his or her past. For people with Alzheimer’s, distant memories shift from background to foreground. To illustrate the past’s prominence, I’ve included it in each picture. The most wrenching part of witnessing the dissolution of a loved one is that you have them whole in the same moment that they’re gone. That simultaneity of having and losing, that nostalgia, is at the heart of Remembered. We have a tendency to look at an older person and forget who they once were. Often, we have a hard time picturing old people as ever being young. I want you to look at these pictures and be reminded that the people here loved, married, were vibrant, passionate; they lived life fully.”

“Carole was 12 years old the summer she struck a swimsuit pin-up pose during a family vacation in Daytona Beach, Florida — and that same year she met her future husband of 57 years, Bill Bates. They married while still teenagers, and after Bill finished his education, Carole picked up hers, attending business school and becoming an executive secretary. Eventually she quit to become a full time mother to their two children. Carole lives in an Alzheimer’s facility now. She’s often unable to respond to questions these days. Bill visits often and takes her for car rides. They eat out and attend Arts for Alzheimer’s, a creativity program that she looks forward to, even now. Still, Bill misses her smile. “The best cook and best homemaker you ever met,” he says. “I used to joke that I could go in my house blindfolded and pick out what I was looking for. She was so organized.” And her lifelong instinct for compassion remains in place. One day Carole noticed a new resident become visibly and verbally dismayed to see the furniture from her home here in these new, unfamiliar surroundings. Silently, Carole approached her, then she reassuringly walked down the hall, arm in arm, with her new friend.”