SmugMug Corner #100: Mary "Ginger" Rogers Jones

We've got something extra special for the 100th SmugMug Corner photographer interview this week. Not only do we have over 40 featured photographs, but we also get to read an interview written by the children of the featured photographer. You see, Mary "Ginger" Jones actually passed away several years ago, yet her impact on the SmugMug community was so significant, they've preserved her site indefinitely so that we can enjoy her photographs for years to come. The interview below includes an introduction written by her children, as well as several quotes from Ginger herself (taken from several sources including her SmugMug site). What a great way to celebrate 100 SmugMug Corner Photographer Interviews!!!

Name: Mary "Ginger" Rogers Jones

Mary "Ginger" Rogers Jones

It is with great honor and pride that we complete the following questionnaire for our mother, Ginger. An active member of SmugMug, Ginger lost her battle May 5, 2007 to an illness that was eventually diagnosed as Wegener's Granulomatosis. We answer these questions as best as we can and include her voice in quotes from two sources. The first is from her SmugMug site where she has commented along with her photos. The second is from an admissions letter she sent to the Charleston County Library. The letter was sent in October of 2006 in preparation for her pending gallery in the late summer of 2007. Ginger passed away before the gallery date but her SmugMug friends and family came together and the show went on. Some who read this will actually know the answers to these questions better than we do and we thank them for knowing her, befriending her and being a part of her SmugMug world.

Tell us a little about 1. Mary "Ginger" Rogers Jones.

Ginger was 67 years old when she passed away. Some well-known facts about her were that she was profoundly hard of hearing, loved her dogs, had a wicked sense of humor and usually did not hesitate to speak her mind.

Ginger lived in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, a suburb of Charleston, for 17 years.

"The low country of South Carolina, I have joined the south, I adore the south, though I am not of it. One must be born here or be from far off, but I can appreciate that I am here now, bringing with me my own unique heritage, Detroit, Michigan area, with stops along the way."

"I live in Mt. Pleasant. I don't travel, I have learned to love what is here. Even when I think I have seen it all, there is more to see and to share."

The most recent "job" Ginger had was taking baptism pictures for her beloved church, Stella Maris on Sullivan's Island. Yet, even there, she yearned for unrestricted freedom to shoot pictures. Beside a photo on her site she wrote:

"Photo shot on my way home from church yesterday. I had to shoot a baptism after the 11:30 service. I was most unhappy about it. Too cold to be comfortable, nonetheless, I really wanted to be 'out' shooting. I think this photo op was a gift from the gods for disrupting my day so thoroughly."

What was Ginger's background/training in photography

"I am a graduate of a Brownie Camera at the age of eight to a Nikon and a dark room in the early 1970s."

As an adult, Ginger took a few classes at local colleges, was a roving photographer for the Vincennes, Indiana Sun-Commercial newspaper and entered photo contests. She set up her own darkroom and became an expert at running a Besselar Enlarger. A monumental moment for her was getting a Nikon 35mm camera and becoming a self-taught expert on the settings needed to take a beautiful picture (long before digital cameras could do it for us).

How long had photography been a passion for Ginger?

"As a piece of history about me, I have had a camera in my hands since I was eight years old. I experience life as a person with a progressive hearing impairment. My role was to observe. I did not know I could not hear as others did, so I observed to see if I could develop the social skills that those around me appeared to have. By growing up as an observer, I became an adult who 'watched'. The camera is an extension of that to me."

"I care about taking photographs like some people care about the next drink. It helps me to forget and live in a different world."

Ginger's family cannot remember a time when she did not have a camera in her hand. They were often the subjects of her photographs or the victims to a long wait while she got the picture she was after. During family events it was known that Ginger would come with her camera in hand. Her camera was a way for her to participate despite her struggle to hear and communicate with those she loved. Her camera was her friend, giving her comfort and purpose among the crowd.

What equipment was in Ginger's camera bag?

We cannot answer this question without including the backpack Ginger carried as that was as much a favored staple as the contents within. A navy blue/grey/red Crumpler, "The Shrinkle" backpack. Well worn and much loved.

Canon EOS 20D, Canon EOS 30D -

"I now have a 30D, it was an anonymous gift from someone in this world. I have no way of finding out who gave it to me. I know whoever it is, it is someone who loves the things I photograph as much as I do."

Canon Zoom Lens EF 16-35mm, Tamron Lens 28-75, Sigma Lens 10-20mm, Canon Macro Lens EF 100mm, Canon Zoom Lens EF 70-200mm, Canon Lens EF 400mm, a Canon EF 70-200mm instruction book, a Canon Powershot Memory Card holder with a number of memory cards inside, a Canon battery charger and spare battery and a small, square notebook with the word "DEAF" written four times around the outside and notes she had written within.

The backpack and the contents within have remained in her family.

5. What were Ginger's favorite places/subjects to photograph? Why?

Throughout Ginger's life she took pleasure in shooting pictures of people, landscapes and events around her. Later in life she was limited to Charleston, SC and its surroundings as she did not travel. But she adored the low country.

The subject she was most passionate about the last few years of her life were birds.

"All I can say is that I am now 67 years old and I have had the richest experiences from the birds I photograph. Sometimes I think I may have become as a bird. I sense the presence of everything in my life as birds do, by movement, the play of shadows. I, too, think that if I stay perfectly still 'no one' and no bird will see me. My subjects are usually wading birds. I love the marshes. I desperately want to see them preserved. I photograph them as I see them and I hope others will see them in a way that will allow the birds to live, the grasses to grow. From the birds who call me outside, I go afield and see the sky, the sun, the tides, the ocean."

Ginger's favorite places to photograph were the connector bridge to Isle of Palms, Caw Caw nature preserve, Boone Hall Plantation, Pitt Street Bridge and Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.

Who were Ginger's biggest photographic influences?

This is an impossible question to answer on behalf of our mom as it would be conjecture. There were so many people from SmugMug she talked about. They inspired her, they challenged her, they nurtured her and they befriended her. We simply cannot name names as we would surely leave someone out.

There are, however, a select few from SmugMug who have influenced Ginger's family from the moment she passed away. They have answered any and all questions we have had with kindness and patience. They helped organize her site, memorialize her site and make her gallery not only a possibility but a success. These people were not only influences in Ginger's life but ours as well: Andy Williams, John Ruttenburg, Sean Sherstone and Nonda "Thusie" Surratt.

How long has Ginger been Smug with her photographs?

Thank goodness for SmugMug record keeping! Ginger joined SmugMug April 3, 2004 at 1:12pm.

If you had to sum up in 50 words or less the impact SmugMug has made on Ginger's photography, those 50 words would be...

Our mom finally found a place to share her photos with people who loved photography as much as she did. A place where she could make friends without her hearing impairment being a hindrance.

A quote we can include that speaks volumes for what the site has done for all of us:

" photography is my legacy to my children and to myself."

If Ginger had to give one piece of advice to those wanting to pursue photography, what would she tell them?

"I cannot tell others what they should see. I cannot tell them what to know. I know about myself, I need to have a camera in my hand. But I hope that everyone will take a walk, trying to see the world through the eyes of a wading bird, a shrimper, a lover, a child, an older person lost in memories. I have seen all that in one short walk."

Posted by Tim L. Walker on Fri, 2011–07–29 16:56
Categories: SmugMug Corner