I always thought I wanted to be a doctor like my father.

But after five unsuccessful majors, the Dean at Denison University suggested I try something other than academic studies. I enlisted in the Navy. I was1A in 1966, and Vietnam was coming into view. I thought it would be best to see 'Nam from the water instead of the land. During a boot camp interview, the personnelman broke it to me that I got a 17 out of 100 on my mechanical test. "There's no way in hell we're going to let you on a submarine as you requested," he said. "You'll sink the damn thing." And then he talked about public relations and the shortage of journalists. I thought fast and said, "Well, I've been a reporter for two years." (I'd never written a news story in my life). He bought my story and pronounced me a "journalist." Two months later I was pushed off the end of the pier and found myself on the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of Vietnam conducting my first interview as a "journalist". I was packing an Instamatic camera around my neck. With help from an officer who had one journalism course in college, I got the story out. It was quite a thrill to see my first news story in Pacific Stars and Stripes on Paul Nitze, the Secretary of the Navy, who had just crossed paths with some tinhorn Navy reporter whose only writing experience was penning several soppy poems in college. When I look back the path stretching 44 years, I give thanks for the little lie that got my foot in the journalism door (and more than once in my mouth). It's been a twisting trail filled with light. I quickly learned it wasn’t the images of war I was hunting, but more the face of humanity. It was a Sunday morning in November 1966. Usually I'd be out with Dean Minnich, my first photo mentor. But this day I was on a photo "hunt" by myself working some back alleys in Sasebo, Japan when one of those "ah ha!" moments popped up in front of my camera. Three elderly gentlemen were enjoying their cigarettes and conversation as they sat on a park bench.(1.) I knew then that I wanted to be behind a camera for the rest of my life. I wanted to be a photojournalist. And it was Dean who asked me to come to Carroll County in 1970 to work at the Hanover Sun in Westminster as a photographer and reporter. That was 40 years ago. What kept me here were the country folks like Charlie Shriver who used his team of Percheron draft horses to farm his Wakefield Valley Farm. His fellas, (2.) like Pete and Jake and others, were kin to Charlie, and I can still see my friend hitching up his team, looking out to the west to that first field he was going to hit. I was drawn to old John and Irene Wolf and their stories about the past and his love for old farm tools. The three of us became friends. I needed a Thanksgiving illustration. They had much to be thankful for (3.) and were glad to ablige. While scouting photos near Gamber, I walked back a farm lane toward an interesting looking barn. And from one of the sheds came a sight that suggested I was watching an old soldier return from the Crimean War. It was old Carroll Niner (4.) in his torn poncho carrying one of his hens. The police dispatcher said some kids were "in a clothes dryer" at the laundromat. Sure enough there was a kid in one of the dryers. He hadn't spotted my camera, and I just waited quietly for the action to unfold. Just as the officer opened the dryer door, out I popped and grabbed the shot (5.) that got me a first place feature photo with the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association.

44/40 in Light
Phil Grout

I was late to a barn fire once. By the time I got there, the barn was down and smoldering, but I'll never forget that farmer doing what he could by taking a hominy (6.) can full of water and tossing it on the remains of his barn. January 20, 2009, will always stick in my memory when I was part of a crowd that gathered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to hear (not see) Barrack Obama get sworn in as our new president. And there beside me was a woman who traveled from North Carolina with her young daughter, to witness the historic ceremony (7.) A disraught young man had a fight with his girlfriend and had barricaded himself in his mother's home with quite an arsenal of weapons. The shooting was sporatic, but lasted on into the night. I knew I was probably going to have only one shot.(8.) I got it, moments before a state trooper held a shot gun on me for what seemed like an eternity before Chief of Police Sam Leppo rescued me. It was Veterans Day 1985 at the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial when a handful of us Vietnam vets rode down to D.C. for the occasion. I remember clearly Bernie Masino and I walking along The Wall seeing a small crowd headed our way. There was a gray haired man in front. "Bernie," I said, "it's Westmoreland". General William Westmoreland scanned the wall and stooped to get a closer look. He found what he was after—the name of his nephew, etched forever in black granite. (9.) The fire/police scanner announced there was a house fire with two infants trapped in Union Mills, about eight miles away. Weeks later I saw the Fire Marshall's report. The young mother had wanted to find a new home for her husband and babies. She was tired of sharing the home with her in-laws. So she started a small fire in the rear laundry room and went out front to get the mail. She figured there would just be a little fire and some smoke which would force her and her family to find a new home of their own. But the fire spread quickly. Her babies were trapped in a front room. They both died of smoke inhilation. And when the first baby was brought out, I can still hear the screams—still see the outstreched hand—(10.) from a mother who was too late. In 1991 I had a happy accident in my photo lab. I invented a technique of converting the silver embedded in the emulsion coating of photographic paper to another form of silver which would leave a florescent, multi-colored trail across the image. I call a photoglyph or light etching. Dawn Dancer (11.) is one of the best examples. Dad was always my champion. His favorite image of mine was the portrait of Sister Helen (12.) at St. John's Church in Westminster. This same framed print hung in a special place beside my father in his office for many years. It's a priceless possession. Speaking of Dad, how about Herb "Daddy" Sell hittin' those hot licks on his keyboard. For decades Herb was the choral music director at Westminster High School. By moonlight, and now daylight after his retirement, he's taking his jazz sound around the southern Pennsylvania northern Maryland circuit. He and the fellas were warming up the crowd in this shot (14.) during a recent Westminster Flower and Jazz Festival. "Daddy" and his combo almost brought down our little log house for a party when I turned 40. -2-

Mary Garrison could have been the poster girl for the Maryland Milk Producers, AARP or even the American Rodeo Association. That's what I've told folks more than once—that Mary was the 1982 grand champion senior "bulldogger" at the Carroll County Senior Rodeo. She really just loved her cows. I met her in 1982 when I was trolling for photos at the Carroll County 4-H/FFA Fair. (15.) We need more Mary Garrisons. She's become the poster girl for my journey. I can't remember how she acquired the name "Howard," but that's it—Howard W. Hubbard. I was on assignment at a large senior condominium complex in Towson, Maryland when the wait staff thoroughly surprised "Howard" with this birthday cake. (16.) The famous poem "Desiderata" ends with ". . .with all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it still is a beautiful world. Strive to be happy." These three seniors found that beautiful world right here. I'm so blessed to have found them and their happiness. ML and I live right over that ridge line of trees exploding with the ruby red mackrel sky at sunup on the day after Christmas 2008. We were watching the morning news and saw the approaching sunrise growing over Chesapeake Bay during the weather report. I told my wife, "I have about five minutes to catch this one. It's going to be a killer." I raced a mile up Patapsco Road, set up my tripod and "nailed it." (17.) And for sunsets, there were the rolling fields of ripe soybeans at the intersection of Rts. 32 and 97 in Westminster last fall. The "rubber neckers" at that busy crossroads couldn't really appreciate the full view of those fields on "fire" (18.) and the "flames" lapping at sundown. By now you can see I step back and forth between the real world of people and that of the good earth. There are times when I stumble upon, say, a dead sycamore (19.) in a stream flanked by live trees moments before sundown holding onto fall with traces of red, yellow and gold, and wonder what it would have been like to have taken the path as a wildlife/nature photographer. But I already know the answer. I'd miss people. I'd miss finding people plopped in the middle of a memorable sundown at Ice Planet in Eldersburg. (20.) It was shot to illustrate a story on sno-ball stands for Carroll Magazine. There are people who travel from all over the world to this pasture to see the mares of Hanover Shoe Farms. They are the standard of excellence for standardbred horses trained with the unusual gait of a "pacer" used in the sport of sulky racing. I happened to travel up from Westminster and crossed over into Pennsylvania to find the brood mares grazing in this dawn's golden light. (21.) Sometimes it doesn't matter that my drawing ability is still what is was when I was in kindergarten. I stumbled upon this scene (22.) at the edge of Uniontown with Jimmy Saylor "skinning" one of his mules, heading back Bob Sabastian's lane through the "sketch" of a first snow. But then there are times when an image just drops in my lap. It was ten days ago, Sunday, October 24, 2010. I was printing for this show in my studio when I heard a loud roar outside. I heard it again and recognized it. "Fred (he's my four-legged assistant), it's a balloon." A hot air balloon (23.) was actually drifting over the peak of fall right above our home. -3-

There are times, say in a long grocery line, when I see a child screaming, "PLEASE, MOMMY, MORE M&M'S," when I smack myself on the forehead and tell the man behind me, "I forgot." "Forgot what?" he asks. "To have kids." And we both laugh. But, you see, I do have children—from all over the world, like Beth Richardson (30.) sleeping in the grass with her dog Liver Lips and her cat what's-her-name. Beth grew up and became a cartographer for National Geographic and did a chart for my third book, Harvest of Hope. And Christine Savoy will forever be frozen in my mind.(31.) I was in Southern Maryland on assignment, driving back roads, "trolling" again for photos when I spotted a man sitting on his porch. I got out and talked with him. When I felt a tug on my pant leg. I looked down and there was Christine. She wanted me to come with her to see something. She wanted to lead me to a nearby abandoned house. She took me back the center hallway and opened a creaking door. Then she plopped herself on a chair and clutched her prized doll baby in that perfect slant of light. (32.) In 1977 I was commissioned to write and illustrate a book on Plains, Georgia and its connection with Jimmy Carter. I ended up living in an abandoned sharecropper's home and coming up with a book on one particular farming family, the Bacons. David Bacon, grandson of my central character, kept to himself with his twin sister. They literally invented their own language no one else could understand. Well, no one accept David's cocker spaniel, "Fluffy." Twelve years later I found myself "trolling" the refugee camps of northern Sudan. "My"children are still there in my mind, like the two brothers I found in an aide station at a camp named Hillat Kousa outside Khartoum. Kneeling in the dirt was "Little Brother" (33.) covered with tiny sand flies, so weak he could hardly moan. Yet from the shadows, "Little Brother" was wrapped in the arms of the brother who had remained steadfast during their hundreds of miles journey after being forced by the soldiers from their cattle camp in the south. The stacks of images I brought home from Sudan started to suck me through my lens and I found it difficult to see where I stopped and the "Little Brothers" began—a dangerous trap for a photojournalist. I put down my camera for what seemed like an eternity. But then I started to literally reground myself in the good earth. I moved rocks and built a Japanese garden at home. And slowly images from the garden began to emerge. It was no longer painful for me to look through that window on the world. My world was coming back into bloom. Instead of fire engines and amulances, I found myself chasing butterflies and watching them through my lens get "swallowed" up by giant purple hostas along the path to our home. Slowly I weaned myself from film and tiptoed into the digital age. I taught myself how to use a computer and began to make images with this new tool. And typical of me, I found new uses for these strange new tools. I admired a particular branch of Bleeding Heart in our garden and I wondered if I could use my scanner as a camera? TaDa! (29.)


Our garden has a collection of Japanese maple trees that operate on their own schedule (as every other living thing does). Right now, our forest is just about bare of leaves, but our maples are just getting ready for the postlude of (30.) scarlet, orange and yellow. Fall is still a mystery to me. I hope it always will be. To think that color was there all along, and then the chlorophyll is nice enough to fade away and let color take center stage. From the garden I got back into the darkroom and continued to find my light. In a way it was like the beginning, watching Dad's images float to the surface of his magical paper as photos of our family came to life. But what I found in my photo lab was even more mystical than what surfaced in Dad's. I was taking old negatives and giving them life as strange paintings. Teams of horses and mules (31.) were plowing new ground and so was I as a chemical painter. I was able to transport a waterman dipping for crabs at Solomon's Island and mysteriously place him in a sea (32.) of amber and gold. I could take a horse and cowboy from Idaho and drop in a sky that resembled the hide of a white face Hereford steer (32A.), like the herd he was trying to get loaded on that cattle truck. The strange chemicals and my imagination could take Ridgely Thompson with his horse and wagon and put them against a sundown (32B.) he could never dream about. But as one visitor to my mobile street gallery at Georgetown Market said, "These photoglyphs, they're just tricks. It's your black and white that speak to me." And they were starting to speak to me as well. Like Leo Entwistle, the head elephant caretaker of the Hoxie Brothers Circus. I crossed paths with Leo in the early 80's at the Carroll County Ag Center. He had a particular fondness for his girlfriend, Bonnie, the biggest elephant in the herd. I walked up to Leo as he leaned back against Bonnie, cocked his hat perfectly and stared at me forever (33.). While Mary Garrison and her cow are my poster girl. Leo (and that patch of Bonnie) is my poster boy for this journey. One of the prettiest places I've come across is the sand-swept town of Monopadu with its European architecture near the southern tip of India. I was documenting the lives of basketmakers who sell their wares to SERRV International in New Windsor. I will never forget the young woman dousing herself with wash water as she took her daily bath.(34.) I have another serrogate child—grandchild—who lives on top of Welsh Mountain in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The flow of water from the hydrant she drinks from is crystal pure, like Emi (35.) who takes a break from Sunday afternoon play to quench her thirst. I drove past her home on Stone Chapel Road and saw her carrying a coal skuttle. I stopped and we talked as if she were my grandmother and I was stopping by after school. I kept my camera in the car. On the next visit I made a portrait (36.) of Mae Chrissinger reading from her Bible by bare light bulb overhead. After she died, her daughter presented me with her mother's Bible. But it was on another visit when I held onto the image I still keep in my heart: old woman, bare light, black gym shoes, apron, contended smile—the goodness of a simple life. -5-

Ever since I traipsed up the back stairway in an ancient nursing home to visit my "Nanny" (my father's mother) in the late 50's, I've been torn between a fear of such facilities and my love for elderly people. I realize that none of us are going to make it out of this place alive, but I would prefer snagging one more photo before keeling over. They'd find me belly up, with a big grin cause it was a good day to die, and I'd still be cradling my camera ready for the next shot. I don't want to hole up in a place where my only company is a toy doll. (37.) This middle room is a collection of some favorite friends from Nicaragua and Ghana. When Hurricane Joan hit the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua in 1988 it cut a wide swath of destruction to the country which was already struggling after years of civil war. I lived for two months in a tent in the ruins of an evangelical church in Bluefields while working on a book, Seeds of Hope. I took a side trip north to check on the growth of some corn seeds I bought a group of farmers. On the voyage in an open cockpit boat I discovered a mother and child (38.) huddled under a pancho in the midst of a sweet rain. During an earlier trip to Nicaragua I was working in the northern warzone near Jalapa. Strolling through a resettlement village I met a young woman who was tending her wood fire in the typical mud adobe stove, or horno. From my imperfect Spanish, smiles and gestures, she understood I wanted to "make" her picture. (39.) It's not just the strength in her face, which still impresses me, it's that bulge of her radial artery on her left wrist which speaks volumns about the toil she has seen. That bulge only comes from years of backbreaking manual labor. And besides, for me, the image is reminiscent of those done by early 20th Century photographer Edward Curtis who captured the strength of Northwest Native Americans in rich sepia tone. Several years ago I was comissioned to illustrate and write a book, Harvest of Hope, on the life of cocoa farmers in Ghana. I lived in the village of Ohaho where the majority of its 3,000 citizens were cocoa farmers. The oldest of which was an 86-year old woman named Afua Nyame. She still farmed her grove of cocoa trees and could scamper across a downed mammoth Onyina tree like a teenager. Her hands (40.) resembled dried cocoa and held stories that were repeated round many village cook fires. The cocoa pods are picked, broken open to reveal the seeds covered with a sweet white gelantenous membrane, piled up and covered to begin drying. After three days the seeds are placed in sacks and carried (41.) to the village drying racks to completely dry. As the seeds are drying, they're also fermenting, giving off acetic acid fumes. The whole village smells of sweet vinegar. It's a joyous time. There will be extra food and even treats. She was a niece of my host family, the Bempongs. She would come by the family compound for some food from my farmer friend Helena Bempong. I can't remember her name. I will never forget her eyes. (42.) B.K. and Margaret Asiamah quickly became friends with me. I passed their home to and from my sleeping place and the Bempongs. There was much laughter at the Asiamah's. Not only did they have a small planting of cocoa, they also kept the village supplied with split bamboo fishtraps. (43.) Margaret explained the fish could figure how to swim into the trap. They just could not figure how to get out, and that was good. -6-

Mary Kwayie is the sister-in-law to my host Helena. Mary sings much of the day while making soap in a big black cauldron, pounding fu-fu in a wooden pestal (fu-fu is made from casava root and when properly pounded and eaten it's like giving taffy to a dog. I never acquired the taste) But I loved hearing this straping woman sing while she worked at her cook fire, splitting cocoa pods with a machete or dancing 'round the fire with her two sons. The only time I wanted to be deaf was when Mary had to leave for a funeral far away and we both knew I was leaving the next day. So she sang me my farewell song. (44.) I spotted Concepcion de la Blanca the first day I arrived in Bluefields, Nicaragua. It was his eyes—and his gentle smile and moustache. I had some extra money and helped him get his fishing nets repaired as well as his boat motor which had been damaged by the hurricane. In Seeds of Hope I say goodbye to my friend, "Tomorrow you sail with the tide out to the pretty fish, and I must go up river to a distant land and find my way back home. By opening your heart to teach me the meaning of your name, you taught me the meaning of life. Concepcion, (45.) you are the essence of goodness that was ever conceived to be." On a previous trip to Nicaragua I stayed in the home of a woman who used her one kitchen table to serve meals to truckers on their way south to Esteli and Managua. She also cooked on an horno, fired by wood. Maria had cooking down to a science with her collection of port openings in her horno at various distances from the fire. She would put pots or skillets on these openings to cook at different temperatures. She could control the heat to her beans or carne asada better than Paula Dean and her whizbang glasstop electric. But what has stayed with me all these years is the way the light in Maria's kitchen fell across her as she sat at the edge of her horno.(46.) It was December 10, 1988 when the priest got the ham radio fixed in Bluefields, Nicaragua. Finally, I could talk with my wife. When the transmission came through, it was clear as a bell and knocked me into the arms of Father Paul. "Groutie, I'm so sorry. Jim just called and your dad passed away about an hour ago." I knew it was coming, but to actually hear it knocked me back a notch. We talked about the memorial and I made sure she picked me up some pipe tobacco. And then I walked to my good friend Winnie McClean. She was sad to hear the news, and rocked me in her flour-covered arms. "Now, Fellipe, you go out back and see what's there. I opened her back door and there was a collection of little peep-peeps that had just hatched. She picked one up.(47.) The picture of new life brought a lift to my sadness. There's a whole other world out there in the Southwest. Like nothing I've ever seen. For one thing, the clouds are different. The sky is bluer. I was walking up a red dirt road (48.)in New Mexico last year admiring the purple asters and yellow rabbit brush when the mother of all clouds pop up in the northwest sky. And just over the top of the hill was an ancient, whitewashed church (50.) that was a perfect counterpoint to the rolling thundheads. If ever there was a black and white scene, this was it. But I'm glad I got the color, too.


I tagged up with an old Navy buddy in southern Utah. Oregon videographer Mark Brown and I saw eachother for two very brief visits in 40 years. But two years ago we made up for lost time and camped in the red rocks (49.) and canyons of Bryce, Arches, Cap Reef and Canyonlands National Parks. Then we drove 900 miles to catch Yellowstone for a week. Our cameras were smokin' after three weeks. I've had some scares during these 44 years—but none like the day Brownie and I walked out to Calf Creek Falls in Utah. I was typically lagging behind while shooting along the way, and I eventually lost Mark. I mean I lost Mark. I blew my distress whistle, but no Mark. And then I remembered he probably had his hearing aid turned off. He finally popped out of the bushes with a look of "Whazup?" I didn't read it—I recited the Riot Act to him—but I was sure glad he hadn't fallen into the stream. But then things went completely south. I started shooting again, and every shot had a deep green cast. The light was fading and I kept getting green rocks. Then good old Brownie handed me his camera, (51.) and that was the rescue at Calf Creek. John Eunig (52.) was a friend I met when Main Street Westminster was part of "my beat"—my personal beat, but I did pick up some photos for the paper out on the street. For the time, that was the "Marketplace." Westminster in the 70's and 80's was alive. Not like the Main Street of the 40's and 50's. But I had friends on the street and friends around the corner at the Rescue Mission. Friends like John Eunig. John had been a farmer and something happened. I never asked. But I did ask him to help me with another Thanksgiving illustration. I photographed John in the basement of Vern Ecker's building where ML and I lived four years. John was a kind man and a good subject. Hanging an exhibition always makes new connections as images juxtapose with their neighbors. This child is half way round the world from John praying, but her eyes offer prayers. She and her mother (53.) had staked their claim on an eight foot section of the train station floor in Pondicherry, India. That was their home. That's difficult to comprehend. But that really was their home. This image was made in 1985. The child is a mother now. I wonder what these eyes have seen in the last 25 years? Could her prayers be so different from an old farmer from Westminster? Nine months ago I was riding through the ruins of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. It was a quick in-and-out trip for SERRV International to document conditions after the earthquake for several craft groups who supply SERRV. I do not speak French. I do not have a Haitian driver's license. I had little time. These three images are the result of what I call "drive-by shootings." My host drove—rather quickly—to and from the crafters while I set my camera to a fast shutter speed and shot from my passenger's seat with rolled up window. I'm not proud of my appraoch. I had no other choice. I felt rather voyeuristic—the first time I'd had that sensation in 44 years. But they do provide a glimpse into the unimaginable conditions of part of our family. Inspite of the horrific destruction in Port-Au-Prince, not one church cross nor crucifixion (54.) sculpture was destoryed by the quake which took the lives of hundreds of thousands. This sculpture still stands infront of the national cathedral, just around the corner from an encampment of two elderly women who gather firewood from the church splinters.


This line of women (55.) stretches nearly a quarter mile. Some women camp here to get a better position for the dole of rice awaiting them at the end of the line. A woman is lucky if she has a partner with her to help carry the 100 pound sack home. Aesthetically there's something quite pleasing about the line of men in their crisp white shirts amidst the splash of orange. (56.) But I still wonder if there might be an orange left tonight for her child instead of a cookie made from mud—incredible as it may seem. There are two Amish friends of mine—Daniel and Leon—who could easily pass for 21st Century versions of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, especially that day several years ago when they were working on thier grandfather's farm. But these guys weren't trying to con anybody into white washing their "daughty's" fence. They'd rather do the work themselves. And then there's Mahlon and Michael.(58.) The first time I met them they were running like the wind down a steep hill—running up and down, one run after another, never tiring. The last time I saw them they were all grown up, making time in their pony cart making certain Michael wasn't late for the evening milk at his nieghbor's place. I think we all could use more than a little Amish work ethic. In Hong Kong I ended up in an elderly Chinese gentleman's home sipping tea and sharing laughs over the Three Stooges we watched on his television in Mandarin. In Westminster I walked back alleys too and ended up trading laughs with two sisters,(59.) Wanda and Mary. All three friends have made my life richer. But out of the thousands of friends I've made around the world, the one who has made my life the richest is Maria Louisa Ramirez. She gave up her dream of dancing in New York as a Rockette to marry a photojournalist and have to endure such ordeals as learning how to row a boat back and forth, again and again, through a misty morning mountain fog.(60.)


The job of the artist is to deepen the mystery

Francis Bacon

When I am old I shall be spun of golden threads and all the sunsets I have seen shall be etched upon my reflection. In my twilight years the puzzle will be solved and I will understand how my path was woven into this blanket of many colors. I shall taste the sweetness of all creation giving thanks that beings and all things are my relatives.
phil grout


Sixty years ago I thought the nicest thing in the world was my shiny new pair of shoes. Today, it's this gathering of old and new friends as we all share in our abilities to shrink the world just a little bit with the celebration of the art that resides in all of us. I want to thank my "old" friend Sherri Hosfeld Joseph who has graciously invited me to fill her space with my art. This truly is the exhibition I have dreamed about for many years. The Carroll County art community is fortunate to have this new showcase. I would also like to thank Lyndi McNulty and Gizmo's art for pitching in with some much needed matte cutting at the 11th hour. Tim Pritchett of Pritchett Controls provided some much appreciated logistical support. Fred was by my side every print of the way and still can't get over that hot air balloon suspended over the studio last Sunday. And thanks to you for your support of the arts (or at least your appreciation for fine coffee). Phil Grout

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