What does a Grryo Christmas look like? We asked each member of the Grryo Lead team to share their heartfelt experiences…
For me, so much about the Christmas season is about the sacredness of time. As soon as December arrives, I am hit with an avalanche of farewell dinners, end-of-year concerts and school functions, all while manically trying to buy gifts for family and friends. Time speeds up, it would seem, and I often feel breathless from the sheer momentum of it all.
As I say goodbye to colleagues, watch my children graduate to a new school year and write cards to loved ones, I subconsciously whisper my thanks and farewell to the year that’s passed and to everything that has been.
And then, finally, time slows down again, as the rush draws to a close. I savour the gifts of cooking, chatting and laughing with family and friends before I turn my eyes to the time that lays ahead: a brand new beginning brimming with possibility.
I cherish all the light that Christmas brings to the darkest of the months.
When days are short and nights are long, we fill December with stars and candles. And then darkness no longer feels like an enemy.
Christmas means time spent with the family. We sleep longer, close our laptops and phones, bake gingerbread cookies, play board games and relish traditional Christmas food. My kids, especially the younger one, are looking forward to meeting Father Christmas again on the 24th, Christmas Eve. Father Christmas lives in Northern Finland, in Lapland, in a place called Korvatunturi (Ear Fell in English), where he has his secret toy and gift workshop.
In December my world is dark with city lights and rain. Christmas means too much office coffee and the sound of the city’s traffic on wet streets. It’s the time of the year when I am all caught up in my job while days are short and daylight is sparse. It produces a feeling of abstraction, like being a detached island in a sea of hectic gift buying, baking, cooking, traveling and doing all things Christmassy. I enjoy watching the circus and love to dip a toe in when I join the merry masses at Christmas markets and dinners with friends and colleagues.
When daylight is the city lights, and tires on wet concrete is the soundtrack. @tonivisual
Out there we fight the darkness with lights and sugar. The cities wear their Christmas markets like a scratchy, favorite winter garment. Renditions of jingle bells fill the air and the smell of Glühwein (hot spiced wine), anise, roasted almonds and melted chocolate lingers wherever you go.
It even seeps down into the catacombs of the subway stations where commuters are joined by herds of shoppers and people dragging their live Christmas trees up the escalators.
On Christmas eve, I leave my island and join my family for cooking goose, the big Christmas tree with real wax candles and cozy nights with board games by the fire.
“lone man in the subway station” – the feeling when the season’s circus is all around but you’re not in it yet. @tonivisual
Every Christmas is different. Family changes. People grow older. Children grow up. A wedding takes place as two lives become one. A grandson will experience his first Christmas. My fourth Christmas with Grryo will be my last.
Every Christmas is the same. Family gathers. Friends share the joys of the past year while at the same time we always find something new to celebrate. We all experience some childlike wonder even though our hair starts to gray. And the richness of story, which is the core of Grryo’s purpose, stays with us always.
Around the Christmas table, I try to remember what have I lost and what have I gained during the past year. I tend to get extremely bored in family dinners and given the melancholy of the days I’m usually the one searching for excuses in order not to attend -the excuses always fail and I eventually attend the dinner. I avoid shooting photos with a camera or a smartphone and I only take instant photos with a Fuji Instax. The prints find their way straight into a box and I check them again after weeks or even months. There is a certain weight in religious celebrations that I am always unwilling to carry. The only fun thing is setting some goals for the coming year. There is usually an overload of goals and usually around February they vanish into thin air. I can’t give you any good advice regarding setting goals, but if I had to, I’d just say set a single goal for 2018 and try to achieve half of it; this seems already enough.
Try to spend some quality time with your beloved ones. Even in the most boring dinners, there might be a sentence that will change you a bit. Use it as a chance to remember a day that for some reason everybody seems to appreciate. And remember your last year’s dinner and compare who was around and who might be absent. I am usually more happy about past year’s dinners than the coming ones. I remember the faces, the family table, the food. Last year it was the last Christmas dinner with the grandma; she won’t attend any of the future ones. Drink some wine, appreciate the presence of people and their presents too. And get slightly bored: this seems to me as the last shelter of creativity.
The word ‘Christmas’ fills our minds with snow, winter, Christmas decorations, joyful carols and various savored baked goodies. As it isn’t very Christmassy spirit on my side of the world, I choose to count my blessings as the festive season approaches and the year ends. Every year brings its challenges but we make the choice of whether we want to complain or appreciate our moments. Gratitude allows us to live in the present moment and continue to see the light by moving forward.
It has been a good year for us at Grryo. We have started to grow slowly but surely with beautiful stories that keep us amazed at the huge talent that exists. As we share our Christmas stories at Grryo, where all of us live in various parts of the world, we celebrate it by making use of the digital world. It is remarkable what technology can do when used productively.
The connections and relationships we have weaved together at Grryo, have made us feel like a family even if we have never met one another. I truly appreciate and value each one of them. It has been a great pleasure building friendships with all of them. Let us cheer for the jolly season and be hopeful for the blessings in the coming year ahead!
The Grryo team would like to sincerely thank you for making 2017 a great year of stories shared! Whether you wrote stories or read them – or both! – a very big thank you for your continuous, amazing support. We wish you safe and happy holidays. Looking forward to more of your wonderful stories in 2018!
What does Christmas mean to you? Do you look forward to this season earnestly or is it a mere family ritual and gathering that you do every year?… Here at Grryo, all of us in the team, come from different countries across the globe with distinct backgrounds. In this post, we will all share what Christmas means to us and how some of us Celebrate it.
Christmas for me is deeply rooted in my faith in Jesus Christ. This holiday is to be a reflection of everything he is and I find it summed up in the word giving. I’m talking about giving without any expectation of a return. This year I have found a couple of actions that demonstrate the type of giving I mean.
John and his wife Shayla started helping a couple of weeks ago at Soul Food Cafe, a local food ministry to the hungry. John’s heart was touched by the need he found all around him. Putting his photography talent to use he had the idea of doing free portraits for anyone who wanted one. On the particular day I visited John there, he took over 50 portraits in front of this tree as Shayla, with infant son “Cotton” in tow, gathered information. This week they are taking photos with Santa. In the meantime he made a video on Facebook about what was happening that generated 1500 views and gained help from several local photography clubs.
This past weekend I helped a group of teens that joined with several hundred other local Arkansans to fill food packs to send to hungry children in Haiti. A local restaurant, Tacos 4 Life, gives enough from their profits to feed one child for every meal they serve. They do this by teaming with Feed My Starving Children® which is a non-profit organization committed to feeding hungry children. They organize volunteers to hand-pack meals specifically formulated for malnourished children, and then ship these meals to distribution partners. These kids gave a couple of hours of their time on a Saturday to pack 492 boxes of food packs. That’s enough to feed 291 kids each day for a year.
Christmas has always been a favorite holiday for me. Despite living in Indonesia with the largest Muslim population, this festive season has always brought me a feeling of joy, warmth and excitement. For many Indonesians, Eid/Idul Fitri is the main holiday season celebrated extensively. The Christmas decorations and carols around Jakarta are mainly found in every mall or churches across the city. The roads and streets are not lit up with lights or decor as it is regarded as a normal public holiday. It is being recognized and celebrated more now by people in Indonesia. For me, during this festive end of the year season, it is more of winding down and enjoying the break from a well-spent hectic year.
Pictures of Christmas decorations in various places I found, that captured my attention.
Colourful Christmas ball ornaments on a huge Christmas tree at a nearby mall. The popping colours and lights was a lovely sight to capture.
A beautiful framed setting done by TWG Tea at a nearby mall. As i was walking past, I noticed a girl sitting next to the teddy bear and her friend taking a picture of her. The colours and moment itself intrigued me to capture it as it is.
Although, Christmas doesn’t hold a special meaning to me, someday, I would love to experience this festive season in countries that celebrate it. So, I can also experience the spirit of joy and bliss.
A huge part of Christmas for me is being thankful for, and spending quality time with, my family and friends – particularly my husband and our two boys. Our lives are pretty hectic; we’re always rushing from one thing to the next, Monday – Sunday. It’s all good and enjoyable, but hectic. So the few days we have over the Christmas period, where deadlines and school runs are thrown out of the window, are very special.
Playing board games and watching films together. Catching up with friends. Having late night adventures in the woods with our boys and their torches. Watching my kids playing and running free, without a care in the world. Like children should. Watching the adults behaving like kids again too. Enjoying the magic of school nativities and music concerts. Eating mince pies that we don’t even like. Wearing silly jumpers and daft Christmas accessories.
Enjoying long walks in the cold.
Not setting the alarm clock.
Decorating the tree together.
Remembering dear loved ones.
Enjoying the little things.
Because I work for a non-denominational church a lot of my time revolves around special events around the church. My wife and I have to get creative with our time to enjoy the holiday with our kids. We have our usual family traditions like decorating our house and listening to Christmas songs by Louis Armstrong. We also drive to neighborhoods and marketplaces adorned with a lot of Christmas lights and if when we can afford it, we will go to Disneyland to enjoy fake snow and watch people play at the skating rink.
The weather folks say that it snows in my region along the coast of Southern California only once for every hundred years, so unless we drive 2 hours up to the local mountains, any expression of “White Christmas” is man-made.
My family wanted to focus more of our attention on people in need this year. Our kids participated in Operation Shoe Box and filled a shoe box with gifts and a note to be given to a child on the other side of our world. Locally, I went with our church group to deliver groceries we put together to families nearby, so they could have a Christmas dinner.
It’s a special time of year for us. We could go insane trying to keep up with all of the traditions that go along with this season. Plus, it is too exhausting to get swept up in the shopping frenzy that happens from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. At my home, we try to simplify how we the celebrate birth of our Savior Jesus Christ by helping folks in need and getting together with family and friends.
December, the darkest of the months. I feel the lack of shadows, I feel in me the lack of light.
Yet Christmas gives me hope. It brings light, all sorts of lights: tiny little ones, bright ones, yellow, red and green, the white paper stars we set up on our window sills early in December. Christmas celebrates light and reminds me that nothing lasts forever, not even the darkest days. That light remains. That I’ll have the shadows back soon again.
I’ve always loved Christmas, how it changes us, the magic of it, and I spend the Christmas days together with my loved ones.
Hope you enjoyed our little contributions from the Grryo Family to spread the joy and spirit with you all.
Thank you to each and every one of you for your participation and contributions throughout the year. We deeply appreciate it.
We would like to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Blessed 2017!
Enjoy the holiday season with your loved ones and we look forward to another exciting new year with you!
This article has been compiled by Jeff Kelley (@postaljeff) and Susanne Maude (@masusanne).
If you’ve been Vimpted, you know the feeling of holding a precious print in your hand, of experiencing this kind act from a fellow Instagrammer, a stranger. And if you haven’t been Vimpted yet, you’d sure love to be. Vimpt is a beautiful proof that art connects and that collaboration creates something unique.
The man behind Vimpt is Craig Austin from the UK. Every week Craig chooses nine Instagram images submitted to #vimptfreeprint, turns them into fine art prints in his dark room and sends them to the photographers. He does this all for free.
Not just thumbnails
Vimpt equals Very Important. “The name signals the importance of the images people are submitting and the importance of the print, that we should not forget the role of materiality within the digital.” Craig wants us to look at the images as physical objects and not just as thumbnails on our phones.
The idea for the project came after Craig taught Alternative Processes at the University of Westminster and collaborated with Jonathan Worth on Phonar Nation. Phonar Nation was a free online photography class, open to anyone in the world and run as a part of the Cities of Learning Initiative in the US. Craig produced free salt prints from smartphone pictures for the students to connect them to the historical, cultural and material contexts that are so often removed from the digital world.
The success of Phonar Nation led Craig to drop the same process into Instagram. He started the Vimpt account in November 2015 and has so far sent out 400 free prints. The project is growing fast; people from all over the world have submitted almost 20,000 images to Vimpt’s hastag.
“I have become part of a vast, engaged and creative photographic community that I didn’t know existed! The communities and individuals I’ve met through Vimpt are incredibly knowledgeable, driven, generous and gifted. I’m excited about where the project is going.”
Old school meets new technology
Craig uses historic processes such as Salt Print and Cyanotype, and combines them with digital technology and handmade paper to produce fine art interpretation of chosen images. “I use the title Alternative Processes for what I do as it helps to describe and give a broad context to this hybrid approach. The term itself is a subject of considerable debate, and there are a lot of different opinions about its meaning and what it covers.”
What interests Craig is how modern technology has made the historic processes more accessible. “A love of the physical print produced by these wonderful old processes and an excitement about how digital technology and social media are reinventing the cultural meaning of photography is one of the reasons I started Vimpt.”
What makes a good image
“There are a couple of things I look for when choosing an image”, Craig explains. If the image relies on a particular colour or if the image’s narrative is about colour, it won’t work as a monotone print. “It can become flat.” The same goes with images that are overly complicated or overworked with apps. “What a salt print adds can become a little lost.”
Craig looks for sharpness and details. “If it’s not sharp but looks like it should be sharp, or if the shot is a portrait and the face is in shadows without enough details, then it won’t work well as a monotone print.”
Yet there are exceptions. “Some images do fall outside this rough guide, and I know they will be difficult to print, but I do them anyway as they are such great shots.”
Craig tries to vary the style of chosen images, and he does not usually print images of drawings or paintings.
The Future of Vimpt
Vimpt is a self- funded project and free of charge for photographers. That makes it unique. Craig tells that photographers have requested purchasing prints, and he’s trying to set up a service that could at least supply prints for exhibitions, but Vimpt as such will always continue to give away free prints. Selling prints was never its goal.
However, Craig, who sometimes produces same images twice in order to replace the ones lost in the postal service, admits that Vimpt is approaching a time when he needs to raise funds to be able to keep making and giving away prints for free. He is planning to establish a donation page on the website. “But it’s difficult to know how to ask for money to continue something that is free.”
Craig himself takes mostly pictures of his loved ones. And no, he does not have any personal account other than Vimpt. “I don’t have much time outside Vimpt and my family, and I much prefer collaborating with other people, it’s more inspirational. For me, photography on social media is about conversations, collaborations and sharing information but in a beautiful and unique way.”
Because of Vimpt, Craig spends a lot of time online, and he is a huge fan of digital art. Yet he is an even bigger fan of physical print.
“Seeing Hiroshi Sugimoto’s prints or the work of Stephen Gill or Masao Yamamoto, or even leafing through a great photo book makes far more of an impression on me than seeing work on a screen.”
You can find out more about Vimpt, the photos of the chosen prints and videos by the happy recipients at www.vimpt.com and you can check out Vimpt on Instagram.