Spotlight on Meg Roussos

TID:
 
This is a very intriguing image, please tell us a little about the backstory.
 
MEG:
 
Thanks for having me, Ross! This image was made during a chicken-butchering day in Athens, Ohio. I had been working on a larger project at the time of a family, and the father, Smiles, called me one morning and left a voicemail saying, "Just thought I would let you know we are going over to a friend's house to butcher some chickens. It is Eli’s (one of his sons) birthday and this is what he wanted to do, just thought I would let you know if you want to come take some pictures." So, I rolled out of bed not really knowing what to expect, other than I would get to hang out with friends for Eil’s birthday.
 
 
TID:
 
Since this image is a result of working on another project, can you briefly tell us about the other story you're working on?
 
MEG:
 
The other project you are referring to is about the Welch family. For the past couple years while I have been in school I photographed this family of five living on their 20 acres in a school bus, showing the relationship between each other and the land. Over a year of photographing them, I realized the beauty of how they were living and wanted to experience it for myself. So this past year I moved out of town and on to their property in a tipi. Though I don’t really photograph them anymore my connection with them has continuously grown; they are a second family to me.
 
 
TID: 
 
Tell us a little about what it's like living out there and how it helps you connect with that family?
 
MEG:
 
Living in the woods is simple. It helps me connect not only with my surroundings but also with the Welch's, because I am living exactly how they are. I'm connect physically by no electricity and no running water, but also mentally, having contentment with what we have and putting more value and work into our relationships with each other rather than other things. Documenting their lifestyle became more of a transitioning point in my life. Building this connection with them has made me look more into myself.
 
This past semester I contributed to our school project, Soul of Athens, www.soulofathens.com, and photographed my experience living on their land.
 
 
TID: 
 
Ok, back to the image we're deconstructing. What challenges did you encounter while working to make this image?
 
MEG:
 
A couple of things made me stop and think. I have photographed butchering before but never really liked anything I’d shot, so I challenged myself to try and capture an emotion that was going on in the scene rather than just documenting what was happening before me. I was also enjoying just hanging out with everyone. Sometimes I get so caught up in just relaxing, that I often don’t take a lot of frames.
 
TID:
 
How did you handle and overcome these problems? 
 
 
MEG:
 
I would make myself get up and look for something that sparked an interest in me, whether it was the light, what someone was doing, or in this case, the amount of blood Grace had on her face, and wait to take a picture. It is possible to have fun and take pictures at the same time - I usually just like to use it as an excuse to hang out and not take pictures. Trying to capture an emotion is something you have to really connect with, and just be in the moment of what you are photographing.
 
TID:
 
Now, onto the moment. Can you talk about the moments leading up to the picture and also the actual moment?
 
MEG:
 
Though I was working on a project about a certain family, I didn’t limit myself to just taking pictures of them. The image isn’t one of the Welchs but of a family friend. Leading up to the moment, as I had mentioned before, I noticed Grace was the person who had the most blood on her face. I had that thought in the back of my mind and waited for an opportunity to photograph it. The moments leading up to the picture went by very quickly. She was on the very left side working on a chicken and I knew she was about to clean out the inside, so she wasn’t going to be moving around for a couple of minutes. Just as she turned to drop the guts into a bucket is when I took the frame.
 
 
TID:
 
What surprised you about the moment?
 
MEG:
 
What surprised me about the moment was I didn’t think much of it while it was happening and how fast it came and went. It was a quick movement and I subconsciously was putting all this work into making an image but didn’t really know if anything had worked out until looking at the pictures later.
 
TID:
 
What have you learned about yourself in the process of making images like this?
 
MEG:
 
I have learned that it is very important to learn your rule of thirds and framing techniques. Once you hone those, push yourself outside of those thoughts and shoot for an emotion, and not just an emotion that you can read in an image but one that you can feel. It is one thing to go out on assignments for class or work and shoot what is expected, but every image I have made and liked is either from a self-given assignment or just going to hang out with photo story subjects for a couple of hours just because I can.
 
 
TID:
 
What have you learned about others?
 
MEG:
 
I have learned from you, Ross, that others want to feel safe, otherwise it is impossible to create a lasting and trusting relationship. Smiles wouldn’t have called and invited me to take pictures during this if he didn’t feel safe. It took a while for him to let me meet his family because he didn’t know me or what my intentions were. To think about how that was a couple of years ago and now I live on their land, that’s pretty amazing.
 
TID:
 
In conclusion, what advice do you have for photographers?
 
MEG:
 
Soak in as much as you can from anyone who is willing to give you advice. Take it all to heart, and then decide what you agree with as a photographer. If you try and do what everyone asks you to, then you lose yourself in the process. Remember these images are for them not you. It’s not your story, it’s theirs. Go take pictures, stop thinking about what would be cool to photograph and just do it. There is a whole community of photographers out there who want to help each other. If we all grow together, we all rise in the process.
 
 
:::BIO:::
 
 
Meg is a senior at Ohio University and will be graduating this spring with a Bachelor of Science in Visual Communication with a major in photojournalism and minor of history. She was introduced to photography by building a black & white film and processing darkroom with her dad in the corner of his basement workshop in the suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio during high school.
 
While in college Meg has interned at the San Diego Union Tribune, The Palm Beach Post, and the Dallas Morning News. She is the president of the OU student chapter of the National Press Photographers Association; a fourth year content creator for Soul of Athens (soulofathens.com); participant in the Eddie Adams and TID workshop; winner of the 2012 Hearst Photojournalism Championship & 2013 WHPNA Student Photographer of the Year; recipient of the Jimi Lott Scholarship; Larry Fullerton Scholarship; and the Don Perris Scholarship. 
 
 
 
All images that appear on The Image, Deconstructed are subject to copyright laws. Any unauthorized use is strictly prohibited. Images on The Image, Deconstructed are used with permission from the copyright holder and are for educational purposes only.