Jim Richardson, National Geographic Photographer and I talk photography for National Geographic Magazine, film versus digital, camera clubs and Instagram, iPhone photograph and travel photography.
Sponsorship and advertising opportunities are available on Specifically for Seniors. To inquire about details, please contact us at https://www.specificallyforseniors.com/contact/ .
I'm Larry Barsh and you are listening to specifically for seniors, the podcast, for those of us in the remember win generation Today's podcast is available wherever you listen to podcasts and in video and audio on Spotify and on the specifically for seniors YouTube channel today on specifically for seniors, we are excited to welcome Jim Richardson. Jim has produced more than 50 stories for national geographic and national geographic traveler magazines. Jim teaches and speaks internationally. And is co-founder of eyes on earth, which mentors, young environmental photographers. He has been profiled on CBS news Sunday morning, and ABC's Nightline. Jim was voted the national geographic photographer's photographer by the society's assignment. Photographers. Welcome to specifically FAS Jim.
Jim Richardson (01:19):
Larry. It's good to be here with you. This is an honor.
I'm embarrassed now.
Jim Richardson (01:24):
How did you get started with national geographic?
Jim Richardson (01:29):
Oh, well, I, uh, uh, I grew up on a farm taking pictures, uh, with my dad's, uh, cameras that he bought in pawn shops. That's a, that's a first step I suppose. Uh, but I, uh, I really, I worked for newspapers for, uh, 15 years and, um, and, uh, during that time did all kinds of photo stories, um, and some books and some things like this. And, and by the time I, I, I left the newspaper world, uh, to become a freelancer. Um, I guess I was kind of a known quantity. I, and I knew the, uh, I knew the folks at national geographic and they knew me. And so it was, uh, it was a relatively easy, uh, transition. Um, and, uh, it, it still took a couple years till I really hit one out of the ballpark if, if, if I'm allowed to say that. And, uh, that really, uh, uh, cemented, uh, the relationship with national geographic, but, uh, it's been going on 35 years now,
Were you assigned shoots or did you pitch your own stories?
Jim Richardson (02:33):
It could be both ways, but my preferred method was to, um, pitch my own stories to, to write the proposals stories, national geographic. They always got stewarded with a proposal. You know, you never just kind of went out to, you never just bought a ticket to Paris and walked to streets until you found some good pictures. You know, you, there was a proposal, it was about an idea. And, uh, and then, you know, it was very bureaucratic in that the went through a committee and all that kind of stuff. But anyway, you write a proposal. I liked to write the proposal because I wanted to be the person setting the agenda. And, and most of all, Larry, I wanted to make sure that, that I was, I was photographing a story that was photographable <laugh>, you know, uh, you know, you wanna, you wanna work on a story in which there are good opportunities to make great pictures. You wanna stack the deck, uh, in your favor, if you can. Uh, so, so you would rather have a story on the grand canyon than, uh, America's illustrious history of car washes, you know? Yeah, yeah. You really, you know, you want good stuff, uh, to, to photograph
Our, uh, story on beige houses in Southern Florida.
Jim Richardson (03:51):
There you go, man. It may be a cultural trend, but oh, the pictures are awful. Yeah.
<laugh> uh, my favorite quote of yours is if you wanna be a better photographer, stand in front of better stuff.
Jim Richardson (04:08):
Tell me about that.
Jim Richardson (04:09):
Stand in front of more interesting stuff. Yeah. Uh, well, um, we were teaching a series of workshops for travel photography, uh, with national geographic. And I struggled with the idea of how do I, what can I say to somebody who's here in the audience today that they can take with them and, uh, and they can, um, uh, use, they can use that will, that will get them to the idea of what should they actually do, you know, when they, when they get out there. And unfortunately, so many photographers believe in knob, turning the photographers believe that they can make better pictures by, uh, turning the knobs and being well, quote creative, you know, and, and they are ever so much better at spending more time finding interesting subjects than just believing that the, the right F stop or the right shutter speed will make the picture for them. So, so that's, that's what, that's what I meant to do. I meant to be able to tell photographers, you know, put effort into finding really interesting subjects. If you're, if you're standing in front of interesting stuff, you have a much better chance of taking a good picture, an interesting picture than, than if you are just trying to make better pictures out of the same old roses out in the garden.
Uh, you, you hit on a, a little low point with me. I just am so tired of seeing flower pictures. <laugh>, uh, it it's yeah. In also in combination with sunset pictures, that's enough
Jim Richardson (05:57):
Sunsets, windmills, Eagles, maybe say Eagles. I mean, you know, the classic is that you go to a camera club, photo contest, and what you see is you see a bunch of mugshots of Eagles and everybody's there with their magnifying glass, just trying to see which Eagle is sharper.
Oh, fake Harper. Oh, thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Jim Richardson (06:20):
And, uh, you know, they're all beautiful. I mean, I mean, they're all sunset pictures are beautiful. I mean, I, it's hard to find a bad one, you know, it's just that everybody has their own sunsets and it's hard to, uh, hard to say something just with the sunset, uh, that that really is interesting to somebody, somebody someplace else in the world. Yeah.
I, I, I wanna get back to camera club judging in just a minute. <laugh>, uh, the world of photography has changed during my life, not lifetime from having to yell, nobody flushed the toilet. I'm in the dark room. I don't need the water temperature. Changing to that sky would look better with clouds. Where's my cloud file. What's your feeling of film versus digital?
Jim Richardson (07:14):
Well, I spent a great plenty of my life working with film dark rooms. Yes. I mean, I stained, I stained so many shirts with fixer in a dark room, you know, that my wife, uh, my, my wife despaired, uh, of ever getting them clean. Um, and I shot plenty of film like Koro, you know, the, the iconic, uh, Koro and ECRO and Fuji Chrome, uh, to know that when I got my first digital camera, uh, a Nikon D 100 and I could see what they could do, that, that was, uh, and I was out shooting a story on the great planes. And when I got that camera, I got, I saw what it could do. I said, immediately, this is my last film story I'm done with film. And I never looking back. And I haven't looked back since I, I absolutely love digital, but I love digital because it lets us see more of the world.
Jim Richardson (08:10):
It lets us photograph, um, effectively in many more situations, whether it's midday, you know, when we shot on Koro, we never went out in midday. That was your time. You took a nap, uh, because the pictures at midday looked awful on Koro. Well, today you can take pictures anytime of the day or night. And we, we never did pictures at night because, well, you just really couldn't do it. And, and so, so we can see so much more of the world now, but you're right. It co it's a double edged sword, isn't it? Yes. Uh, everybody, you everybody's got the artificial intelligence software that can automatically put clouds and lightning in the sky and can, can take out telephone poles and do all that kind of stuff, you know? Well, um, at, at least for national geographic, I I'm, I'm a non-fiction photographer. <laugh>, that's the way it's about as simply as I can put it. Um, you, you know, I rely on the power of reality in my pictures. And if I'm doing that, I can't go playing games. I can't go adding, adding clouds where none existed. Um, I can, I can look for clouds and I can play 'em up for everything they're worth when I'm looking through the view finder, but I just can't go randomly add them in because oh, this scene would look better with some clouds. No, I can't do that.
Cameras today are miniature computers, pews, uh, which means to a degree, you don't have to think as much about the technical aspects. Does that free you up to think more about composition, the emotional effect of the photograph?
Jim Richardson (10:10):
It should. It should. Yes. Uh, the, the bar is higher, you know, <laugh>, uh, it, it used to be, you know, if you go back far enough, if, if you could simply make a sharp black and white print, you know, you could get work, you know, it didn't, it didn't have to say much, you know, you just were a camera operator. No, the, uh, the, the kinds of things that the mobile phone photography can do with the computational photography today is just astounding. And, uh, and that, and that raises the bar. It means that that just getting something sharp, uh, or with nice colors, um, is, is step one, uh, in order to do really good pictures and pictures that will garner attention. I mean, the, the problem now is, is we're inundated in pictures, just flooded with pictures. And so you're out in this marketplace of the visual world and, and your pictures have to compete.
Jim Richardson (11:15):
Certainly if you're on Instagram or any of the social media that, that rely heavily on, on images, then the, then the pictures are, are searching for eyeballs. And I think that, that, that, that means that the, uh, uh, the mobile phones, the can, can do wonderful pictures, but also that, that you're gonna have to do better than just, just get nice color, uh, and sharp that that's the beginning steps. Uh, you need more, the pictures need to say things they need to, they need to communicate things and you, the photographer needs to have things to say <laugh>. Yeah.
So your job as a photographer has really changed with the change from film to digital.
Jim Richardson (12:06):
It has, it has. Yes. Um, and I mean, I think some in lingering, in the minds of some people is the idea that, that the photographer is someone who, uh, who takes other people's ideas, who takes assignments, you know, takes a shoot list and goes, and, and does the, the, the photographer technical things, you know, um, but increasingly the, the photographer has to be not just the, the technical camera operator, they need to be the embodiment of the message they have. They need to be the person who's, who has something to say. I mean, you would never, if it was a novel, you would understand that the writer of a novel is more than a typewriter operator. <laugh>, you know, they, they have to, they have things to say, right? Well, that's where photography is now is that, that the, the best photographers have things to say, they understand how to say them.
Jim Richardson (13:10):
Um, they are saying important things and interesting things, and they know how to get those things out, um, to audiences. All of that is now wrapped up in, in photography, my friend, up in, uh, Lincoln, Nebraska about, uh, three hours north of me here. Uh, Joel Sartori is a great example of that. You've probably seen his work because he's the guy behind the photo arc at national geographic. He's the guy, um, documenting all of those endangered species, uh, in the world that are in, um, zoo collections, uh, BA basically mm-hmm <affirmative> and he's done, uh, I think he's up to 10,000 now. I mean, it's just an incredible body of work, but he is also the embodiment of the issue of saving endangered species and what he's talking about then when he gives his presentations, uh, to people he's not talking about photography, he's talking about endangered species and the importance of the species. And, and as a photographer, that's all wrapped up into, uh, into what he does.
Yes. What is your answer to someone who says that's a great photograph? What camera did you use?
Jim Richardson (14:34):
<laugh> oh, oh, I like cameras. I don't, I don't mind talking camera camera stuff, as long as everybody understands that, that, um, that, that that's not the only, only issue. And, and, and as a matter of fact, you know, all of the cameras today are so good that almost any picture today can be taken with any of the, of the, the sort of the major manufacturers, uh, cameras, you know? Yeah. They're, they're, they're just, they're just all good. So it's interesting. It's interesting chat. Um, but it's, uh, but it's insider pool <laugh>, you know, and, and it probably, isn't going to, as long as you understand that, that simply switching cameras, isn't going to make you a better photographer. You know, that's, that's one of the, the, uh, the most important things, but no, I loved, I loved chatting all that, that kind of stuff. And there are capabilities that certain cameras have, uh, and, uh, certain reasons why you would pick one over another. Yeah, there are, um, mm-hmm <affirmative>, but, uh, but fanboy, uh, quality squabbles. No, that's not a good reason
A question. Mm-hmm <affirmative> do you crop photos? Are you a, a, a purist quote unquote?
Jim Richardson (15:54):
Um, I, I don't very much, but for, for, for more basic reasons, uh, there are a couple of aspects of that. Uh, and, and I, that I think are worth talking about, uh, one, I grew up in an era in which, um, you had to eek out every bit of quality you could from the 35 millimeter frame. So the best thing to do was, was to not rely on cropping. We did in newspapers, we cropped plenty, and I have no basic philosophical reasons not to, not to crop images, uh, depending on their use and, um, and whether or not to make them better. What I see though, is, is a lot of people today who want to own a very high megapixel camera with the idea that when they're out there taking the picture, they don't really have to work very hard. They just stand back and get all those mega mega pixels, you know, and then they'll crop it later, but that doesn't help if you, if you didn't arrange the things in the view finder to the best possible advantage when you were there, you know, you, you, you, you can, you can crop in the edges and you could crop things out and you can do all those kind of things, but it, but it doesn't help you when you should have put that person closer to the camera and included the dog in the background.
Jim Richardson (17:17):
No, that, that just cropping won't help you. Uh, if you haven't done that kind of level work. So I, I, I discourage people in my workshops from relying on cropping when they really should be working their creative muscles
And physical muscles
Jim Richardson (17:37):
At the time they take the picture. That's right. You know, there's, there's, there's a, there's a great value in zoom lenses, but there's also a great value in footwork. <laugh>
Jim Richardson (17:49):
Well, just, yes. Sneaker zooms. There you got, that's a great phrase.
Uh, we talked before about camera clubs.
Jim Richardson (17:58):
Yeah. Mm-hmm <affirmative> I I've been in and out of camera clubs, uh, like most amateur photographers and listened to judges who go on about how sharp, as you said before, the feathers are on a bird. Yeah. And that makes the quality or lack of quality of a photograph. How do you feel about that?
Jim Richardson (18:22):
Well, I, I don't mean to be, I don't mean to be disparaging because there are, there are reasons for, for a lot of these things, for instance. Yes. If you are photographing for a bird guidebook yes. Then you want to see all of the bird sharp. Yeah. There is there's, there, there is a good reason for, for doing that. If you are doing a fine art photograph of birds, then you may make totally different, uh, decisions. Um, I, what I, what I am against sort of is the arbitrary rules, school of good photography, you know, rule of thirds, um, uh, the, the faci is, did I say that right? FAI spiral kind of compositional school, um, all, all of those, all of those kind of things, because essentially, um, you can follow all the rules and you still have a boring picture. <laugh>, you know, it won't necessarily make a boring picture into an interesting picture.
Jim Richardson (19:32):
Um, and you can, you can have a very interesting picture, a riveting picture that follows none of the rules, and you might be able to improve it some with some cropping or something like this. But, but the essence is if it was really interesting to begin with, you know, it can probably stand up to a whole lot of, of errors. And I, I, so I, I kind of recoil at the idea that, that you can make better pictures simply by correcting all the mistakes. Mm-hmm <affirmative> I don't, I don't think that works. There are some kind of things. Yeah. You, you want to, you want to get right. I, you, you like to have it in focus, you know, you want the exposure to be effective, all, all those kind of things. Um, but it doesn't necessarily mean if you start out with a boring picture and you correct all the mistakes that you're gonna have to with an interesting picture and that in today's world, uh, is, is the coin of the realm.
Jim Richardson (20:31):
Interesting. Uh, and, uh, and so very often, I, what I, I, I know that there is sort of the, the, the camera club world in which, um, much of it is based on points and, and wins and all, all that. And that's, uh, that's, that's all great. Uh, all, all great fun. And there's no reason not to do it if you, if you find it interesting and, and worthwhile. Um, but, um, it, it, I don't think that people who are very good at that should be surprised if some picture editor at national geographic doesn't get it when they show them the picture of the Eagle, because that picture editor has seen lots and lots and lots of Eagles before. <laugh> you?
So, so what gets more important? Uh, what, what is more important, uh, the opinion of a single judge or the opinion of maybe a hundred thousand followers on Instagram?
Jim Richardson (21:39):
Uh, ah, now you, now you see you've act a very complicated question. <laugh> <laugh>
And I had trouble asking it
Jim Richardson (21:48):
Too. Uh, and that, that it, yes. I mean, you, uh, I mean, I can, I can broach it in, in a couple of ways. One is that, that, uh, back in the day, I'm, I'm harking back to national geographic now, and 30 to 40 years ago. Um, if, if you got that one gatekeeper at national geographic, that director of photography to say you were a good photographer, then sort of your life was golden because you were going to, you were going to get these assignments and, uh, and be published and all, so, so it was sort of the gatekeeper era. It's the equivalent of the one, one knowledgeable judge that you just, uh, put out now today, of course, um, you have so much different and, and yes, you know, I, I, I get out my, my iPhone and I post on Instagram and, and by the next morning, I can tell whether or not that picture hit it outta the ballpark, or was a dud, you know, uh, by the voting, the online, essentially the online voting of, of all those people.
Jim Richardson (23:00):
I don't necessarily think one is one of those systems is better than the other, but they are both the, the, that newer, democratic voting that happens on platforms like Instagram today is a new thing in the world. You couldn't, you couldn't do that 30 years ago. Uh, and, and so, so we have a, we have a new mechanism in the world. And what I, what I find fascinating is that you have photographers, um, who are able to use that system to gain followers, to gain viewers, to do real things with their photography, um, to be very effective in the world. Uh, I think that's a, I think that's a net gain for us. And, uh, so, so I think both systems still still exist if we, if we pair it down to just those two extremes. And, um, but I, but I very much value that, that there are all kinds of photographers who out there who can, uh, who can sort of enriches enriches with their pictures.
Jim Richardson (24:12):
Um, you know, I, myself, um, before we started here, we were talking about our dogs barking. Well, we have a Jack Russell terrier, and, and now I'm an ardent follower of Jack Russell terrier accounts on Instagram. Yeah. <laugh> along with, uh, steam engines and, uh, you know, all, all kinds of other things, but I'm also on Instagram, we have been involved, um, with a friend, uh, Amy Tali, uh, another national geographic photographer with a project called, uh, vital impacts. And, uh, for the last, uh, six weeks, uh, we have been selling prints online to raise, uh, money for aid of, uh, of, uh, people in Ukraine. And all of a sudden you can do that. You can, you can have real impact by, uh, by doing something like this. Uh, well, over a hundred of our national geographic photographer colleagues have participated and, um, and all the money goes to, uh, all the money goes to aid in, in Ukraine, vital impacts.org. If I may say that, um, sure. Today's the last day of the sale though. And so, uh, I don't know if people will be able to do that, but, but it is something it's, it's, it's a wonderful thing to be able to, to have, take the pictures and have real impact. Yes.
Do you think on, on national geographic, uh, assignments, for example, mm-hmm <affirmative> do you think the photographers get enough recognition?
Jim Richardson (25:53):
Oh, I, I think, yeah, we got a, we got fair billing. Yeah, we did. Do you <laugh> oh, yes. Uh, uh, maybe not quite as much as, as, as we did, but here's, here's what you knew in, uh, whenever you're doing a story in national geographic, as opposed to other magazines, let see the new Yorker or something like this, when national geographic, the photography was always gonna get three-fourths of the space. Now, a lot of other publications that's not going to happen. And if push came to shove, the writer was going to have to trim their work, not the other way around. So, no, we, we, we can't claim, uh, not getting enough tension. I don't, I don't think, you know, it was a, it was a good run. I must, I must say. Uh, but there aren't a lot of publications who do that, who that are Photography centric, uh, that, that start with the images and, and, and go from there. Uh, most publications would be words, word driven.
What I was thinking of was some of these pictures you see of a mountain climber hanging by one arm from a cliff.
Jim Richardson (27:09):
And nobody is crediting the camera crew. <laugh> that climbed up that mountain with 70 pounds of
Jim Richardson (27:21):
Photography's there's that? Yeah. Now in that case, you see the national geo magazine that would be Jimmy chin and, and he would have the credit on the, uh, on the, on the photography, on the story. And they probably would play up his role, but other times yes, if you are, uh, talking particularly about, uh, television productions, um, right. You know, David Attenborough is, is there with his baritone voice, you know, uh, waxing, poetic and wonderfully, by the way. Um, but it's, it is been those poor guys, uh, and, and women in, uh, uh, getting stung by, uh, mosquitoes, you know, for hours and hours and hours every day for weeks on end, you know, that really made those images. And, uh, those, those folks unfortunately, do not get as much prime time as they should.
Let's let's talk a little bit about travel photography. Mm-hmm <affirmative> how do you get ready for an assignment in a location that you've never been to?
Jim Richardson (28:29):
Oh, yeah. Do do a lot of research <laugh>. Um, it used to be that I would, I would've been buying guidebooks and, and just anything that had, uh, had pictures in it, because I wanna know, uh, what's there, you know, today I can do a Google search, uh, and, and immediately have an idea of, um, of what can be found, uh, in any given location. Um, and also to know what are the cliches, um, you know, if that's valuable for me to know as well, um, because, uh, if, if I don't, I can, I can go someplace and, and think I've discovered something wonderful. And I come back and I see that, oh, everybody else in the world does exactly the same thing when they're, when they're there. So I want to, I wanna guard against that, but, uh, a lot of research and then the other, the other thing is I think it, isn't just, um, sort of coming up with a, a list of must see things or must photograph things it, but it's, it's how, and what training, your training, your mind and your mind's eye to see things when you are there in front of it.
Jim Richardson (29:47):
Um, and you reading the novels, um, um, the murder mystery set in a location, um, anything that gives you a sense of, of the place, the, the rhythms of life, the priorities of people who live there, the, the culture, the, the, the nature of nature of the day, you know, that if you're, that, if you're in a, uh, in a, uh, far, um, uh, if you, in some country, in the far north, uh, latitudes, you know, that you have these incredible lingering dusk times, you know, that go on for hours, if you're up there in the Sheline islands, you know, in the north Atlantic versus if you're in Costa Rica and, you know, it's kind of like when the sun goes down, they turn off the lights, you know, it's, it's a very different place and things work differently, and the light is different and all of those kind of things.
Jim Richardson (30:43):
So as much as you, I, I just try and inundate myself. Um, I know there are photographers who say, uh, I don't wanna do any of that. I wanna go there and be totally, uh, totally, uh, immersed, uh, in the, in the experience. And, uh, if I, I think if you probably, if you are, if you are the kind of photographer who, who simply wants to go and enjoy the experience of photography, um, then <affirmative>, um, then that's one thing on the other extreme. If you are on assignment, you know, and you have necessary things to say, then you'd probably better do a, a little bit more research. I particularly myself, I enjoy doing the research. I enjoy reading the books and, and, and, uh, that's, that's half the joy for me, the, the things that happened before I ever get on the plane or on the cruise ship.
Would you recommend that to amateur photographers who are taking a trip as well?
Jim Richardson (31:52):
Oh sure. Cause one of the reasons I think is you're spending a lot of money on that trip. <laugh>, you know, this is just a way of, of, of, of spreading out the investment of getting more, uh, out of it than just sort of, um, parachuting in and, and acting like, you know, everything about the place. When, in fact you, don't
What we talked about this a little bit, uh, by email, what do you do when you are in a group trip, a tour? Hmm. And for example, uh, our last trip was to Cambodia, my wife and I, and we're walking through anchor, Tom anchor, wat all these absolutely marvelous places that you want three or four days to explore all times of day. And the other people are saying when's lunch,
Jim Richardson (32:59):
Or ways shopping. Do they have a gift shop?
Jim Richardson (33:04):
How do you, how do you get a series of decent photographs?
Jim Richardson (33:10):
Well, uh, there are, there are multiple aspects, um, of, of your, of your question. Um, um, one, one is I think, I think you need to understand what if, if you're saying a group, so I say I take it you're on a tour of some sort is what, you're, what you're meaning. Okay. What, what
I'm trying to balance is the advantages of having someone else carry your bags in and out of hotels, <laugh> with getting some good photographs.
Jim Richardson (33:42):
Right? Right. So I think what you have to realize is, is you have to, you have to come to firm grips and be comfortable with accepting what kind of a tour am I on? You know, am I on a photography tour where the priority is going to be, that we will be out there at sunrise and sunset when the light is great and, um, and, uh, will, will eat when we can, where you gonna be a nor more normal group tour in which people like to be back for dinner. And they like to have their breakfast, even if it's a sunrise, you know, um, what kind of a tour are you on? I ha for instance, I have been on, on tours that were built as a photographic tour, but in fact were actually a hiking trip. And all of the decisions had already been made about, about, um, when the tour operators could, could make things happen.
Jim Richardson (34:45):
It wasn't not, not much priority was set on the photographic side of it. So it was very difficult to, to, to make one kind of trip into an, into another. So I think you have to be comfortable that if you're on a, uh, if you're on a group tour and it's the kind of trip in which, uh, you know, you're, you're trying to pack in the maximum stuff every day, and you're trying to see as many cathedrals as you can, uh, and still get everybody fed and all that kind of stuff. You know, probably the opportunities for pure photography are going to be very limited and, and, uh, and you'll still be able, you'll still be able to get pictures, but no, it's not the same as if you, uh, were like me going out on an assignment for national geographic and photography was absolutely ultimately foremost, you know, uh, you, you're not gonna worry about eating. You're not gonna worry about sleeping <laugh> well, no, you're not gonna do that on most group, uh, group tours. So I think you just, you, you have to be comfortable with, with what, what you're, uh, what you're doing. Um, the, the second thing is you notice when you were at anchor wat, um, um, it was crowded, right?
Jim Richardson (36:04):
Well, you can, you can make yourself apoplectic, uh, by worrying about people getting in your way at places like this, but it's the nature of the place and you go, you go to, um, uh, master peak shoe, it's a park and they open up at eight in the morning and they close down at five and it's pretty crowded all the time. And no, you can't get people to just get out of your way because you have a camera in your hand. No, that's, that's not, uh, that's not going to work. Um, what you can do if, if you decide is, you know, you can, um, decide that maybe you don't want to be with the group all the time, then maybe you're, you're, you're gonna go the opposite direction on the tour, through the cathedral. You know, you're gonna let the tour group that go that way and you go the other way. Uh, and you find some places where, uh, there aren't so crowded, uh, you can do that. Um, and I, I think you need, go ahead, Larry.
Uh, I was gonna say that was my wife's favorite line to the guides. <laugh>, don't worry about Larry. He'll catch up. He'll find us.
Jim Richardson (37:19):
So, and I did find some empty spaces and anchor watch.
Jim Richardson (37:23):
Yeah, yeah, exactly. Took
Some climbing, took some it, but at the top, there are some empty places.
Jim Richardson (37:31):
Yeah. And if you, um, if you, um, right, and if you're patient, if you, you find a picture that you wanna do well, just give yourself 10 or 15 minutes, if you can, to sit and wait until people clear out a little bit, or somebody interesting comes by, or, well, the elephant walks through, you know, whatever, you know, all that kind of thing. The other thing I think is, is that you have to, you have to decide, um, what kind of photography do you enjoy? Do you en do you enjoy the act of photography? Um, are you simply wanting to come back with travel pictures that will remind you of your experience? Are you, are you trying to, um, do, do pictures that you'll be able to share with others? You know, what, what, what is it you, you want to do and want to get that will help you decide on what kind of a tour are you gonna take in the first place?
Jim Richardson (38:32):
You know, and then I think once you've done that decision, get yourself comfortable with the nature of, of what it's gonna be. Uh, these days, you know, people, by the way, anticipating this kind of thing, people will come to me, then they'll say, I'm going on a trip. Um, and I wanna take a good camera, you know, uh, what would you recommend and end? And for those folks, because if they're saying that they probably don't have a camera bag full of digital SLRs already, you know, and, and for those folks anymore, say, uh, have you upgraded your phone lately? <laugh>, mm-hmm <affirmative> do you have the latest and greatest Android or iPhone that does all these, these things wonderfully, because that is such a more pleasant way of doing photography in the tour setting, where, where, where you're getting, you know, you're, you're getting on and off buses and you're with a group and, and, uh, and you really don't want to be carrying a tripod. You know, you don't want to, you don't because otherwise you're gonna be fighting all the time, uh, the natural flow of things going on in those cases, those phone cameras are a true blessing, and I've, I've done that. I've taken cruises and I just took my iPhone. That's it?
Yeah. I was, I was gonna ask you, uh, what people should put in their camera bag on a trip. So you sort of pre-answered that
Jim Richardson (40:08):
Well, yes, I think they, it, it really depends on the trip, you know, and, but I also think it, it is worthwhile exploring the capabilities of those cameras. Say you wanted to go one step up from, uh, a phone camera, you know, what cameras are there out there that, um, uh, uh, make your life easier, you know, would, wouldn't be so big, would, um, uh, would give you more capabilities? I don't know. Can I say brand names here? Sure. Okay. <laugh> so I, I, yes, I keep, uh, I keep a big kit of Nikon cameras for, you know, like serious photography. You know, if you can say that I also have, uh, an Olympus kit, uh, because there's, there are a couple of thi reasons for that. And, and one of them is that they're smaller, they're lighter, you know, one camera bag and, and I can, um, I'm not a big camera bag either, and I can cover, carry several lenses and I can do very serious photography if I want to.
Jim Richardson (41:19):
The other thing is they have, um, really great. I'm gonna sound like an ad now, but I, this, this is what I think about. Okay. Um, go ahead. They, they have really great image stabilization, meaning, uh, I don't have to have a tripod with me. You know, you, you, that's, that's a big thing. If you're traveling is not being, having to carry that tripod into the, into the cathedrals and whatever you wanna photograph and that kind of thing. And they're waterproof, you know, more cameras are getting all of those capabilities, uh, as we speak, but a, a waterproof camera I'm going off to Scotland, you know, and you notice it rains in Scotland, some, um, and I can't tell you how many times I've taken these little, you know, the raincoats for cameras and, and they, they're a mess they're, they're tedious and all this, well, take a camera that is essentially waterproof. They, they exist, you know, and they make your life so much easier if you're doing those kind of things. So
We were in the middle of a bridge somewhere north of Edinboro mm-hmm <affirmative> and it was a beautiful day up until we got to the middle of the bridge when it started pouring
Jim Richardson (42:35):
Two gentlemen going the other way said welcome to Scotland.
Jim Richardson (42:42):
Well, of course, yeah. You know, you, you, you, uh, this is Scotland is a great opportunity to show off your really good rainwear. Yeah. You know, not those plastic raincoat, but I mean, serious rainwear and the look you look spiffy
<laugh> uh, what did we miss?
Jim Richardson (43:02):
Oh, so much. Yeah. Yeah.
Maybe we can do this again. I I'd like to talk to you more about iPhone photography.
Jim Richardson (43:12):
Oh, sure. I'd love to, I'd love to, I just think it's, uh, I think it opens up so many things for so many people, uh, the, the, the, the way they, uh, they want to do things. I, you know, the one thing Larry is is that I think that, um, if I had to, if I, if I had to judge, if I had to have one criteria okay. For, for, uh, judging cameras, pictures, all of that photography in general, um, I, I would come down and say, uh, does this make my life richer? <laugh>, you know, does do these pictures make my life richer, or did taking them take away from the experience of while I doing it, if we're talking in travel photography, um, does the experience of doing the photography? Do, do I enjoy that, or is it simply a, uh, friction with my spouse? You know, I think it, it is really worth a asking, uh, some of those kind of questions and, and, and, and interrogate the pictures themselves in the same way. Is this picture doing something, you know, or is it just proving that I know how to get things sharp? You know, that's, that's, I think that's worthwhile.
I know I did things when I had a camera in my hand that I would not have done in any other situation. <laugh> I, I found myself in places that I shouldn't have been <laugh>, Uh, taking pictures of things. I probably shouldn't have taken pictures of <laugh>,
Jim Richardson (44:54):
But, you know, they, it, it also opens doors. Oh yeah. You know, and, and it's a way of, it's a way of sharing. I mean, I, I think back of certain people who I took portraits of, and I realize, uh, later that they essentially would, they were able to, through me and through my picture, they were able to say things to a much larger audience than, than would they would've ever been able to say otherwise. And so I was sort of the conduit, um, but, uh, those situations, they don't come up all the time, but when they do, uh, it, it really shines a spotlight on the value of photographs and, uh, and what they can do for us.
And it's a way to communicate with people when you don't share a language.
Jim Richardson (45:42):
Having a camera in your hand and a smile and a nod, uh, you get to meet a lot of wonderful people
Jim Richardson (45:52):
And, and it's so much better if you, uh, you know, I, I, I always tell my students, I said, don't stand across the street with your zoom lens. You look like a spy and people don't like spies, you know, go across the street and meet those folks. And, and, uh, and, and see if something doesn't come out of that encounter. That is, that is personally and photographically better.
Absolutely. One final thing. Tell me about small world gallery.
Jim Richardson (46:28):
Oh, okay. Yeah. Well, we live in a small town out here in the middle, in the Midwest, in the very middle of Kansas where my wife and I both grew up, uh, we have a, a gallery on main street of a town of about 3,700 people. I think Lindsburg Kansas, it's a Swedish American community, all those Swedish immigrants coming out there. So we're, our phone book is full of Anderson's and Swenson's, and for things like this, you know, um, and so we have a, we have a, a small gallery and we have my photography and my wife, uh, jewelry and our assistant Brianna's jewelry and books and children's books and stuff. We find interesting <laugh> and we hope other people find interesting too as well. Uh, and, uh, it just GI, it gives us a, um, a platform on main street, uh, that acts as a, as a hub and our connection in many other, uh, different ways as well,
Jim Richardson (47:31):
Website, Jim Richardson, photography.com. If you want to firstname.lastname@example.org, small world gallery.net, if you wanna come, uh, take a look at small world
And Saturday mornings from small world gallery.
Jim Richardson (47:50):
Oh, yes. I, I do an Instagram live, uh, many Saturday mornings. I won't say all at about, uh, about 10 30, and I just basically get on, uh, Instagram live and open it up to, uh, whoever's out there, uh, and, uh, talk about photography and, and all it's, uh, it's a remarkable experience because what I ask people to do is to, uh, tell me where they're coming from. And, uh, the, the, the amazing thing is, is while I have a lot of followers, um, on Instagram, um, about 70% of them are someplace other than the United States. So, so they're from all over. So, you know, you, you start in, and all of a sudden here, people saying that they're coming from, from, uh, Ireland and, and Iran and India and Bali and Bangladesh. And, uh, there, all of a sudden, we're, I'm sitting there talking with people, uh, from all over the world, probably 40 or 50 countries every Saturday morning. And it's just a, a delight
And you give courses online.
Jim Richardson (49:02):
I do, I do, uh, with, uh, particularly with, uh, my friends at summit workshops. Um, and, uh, in fact, I do an iPhone photography workshop. Yes. And, uh, and you can, if, if you don't mind my saying, you can go to summit workshops.com and look for online workshops, and you'll find me, uh, when we have an iPhone we'll, I'll do, I'll be doing that this week, uh, Wednesday and Thursday evening. Um, and basically I'm just trying to help people figure out everything that, that, that expensive phone that they're paying for every month, uh, is capable of doing
Terrific. Jim's fun to do. Thanks for being on specifically for seeings so much. And I really would love to have you back to talk about iPhone photography.
Jim Richardson (49:57):
Oh, sure. I'll be glad to thank you, Larry.
Take care, Jim. Thank you. Thank you so much.
Jim Richardson (50:02):
Thank you, Larry. Bye
Speaker 3 (50:04):
If you found this podcast interesting, fun or helpful, we'd appreciate it. If you tell your friends and family and click on the follow or subscribe button, wherever you listen to podcasts until next time, I'm Larry Barch. And you've been listening to specifically for seniors.
I'm Larry Barsh. And you are listening to specifically for seniors, the podcast, for those of us in the remember when generation
Today's podcast is available, wherever you listen to podcasts and in video and audio on Spotify and on the specifically for seniors, YouTube channel, we are honored to have as our guest on specifically for seniors, Dr. Yaman herd, Dr. Herd is the ward Coleman chair of translational neuroscience and the director of the addiction Institute at Mount Sinai hospital. Her research investigates the neurobiology underlying addiction disorders and related psychiatric illnesses. Dr. Herd's research has put the spotlight on her pioneering work on the effect of cannabis on the developing brain. Her research was featured as the cover story of the time magazine issue in may of 2015, entitled to great pot experiment and in a CNN documentary with Dr. Sanja gutta. Welcome to specifically for seniors, Dr. Herd,
Dr. Hurd (01:36):
Thank you so much for having me.
I'm gonna put on a brief video from your Ted talk
Dr. Hurd (01:46):
Over the past 20 years, more than 800,000 people have died in the United States due to drug overdose. Yes. More than all the lives lost in all the wars. This country has fought in. The majority of these cases are due to opioid drugs. Sadly, while we're having this very conversation, at least one person will die from a drug overdose and a child will be born experiencing severe withdrawals due to in utero. Opioid exposure only recently have some pharmaceutical companies been held legally responsible for the opioid crisis and compared to their multibillion dollar revenues, the economic penalties they're paying seems minuscule.
Dr. Hurd (02:36):
So let me ask a question. Why does addiction and the stigma of addiction make it okay to undervalue human lives? Ironically, I'm often asked the opposite question. Why should we care about addicts? Sometimes I'm even shouted at, by people who think that anyone who suffers from a substance use disorder brought it on themselves. They must be weak. They lack any moral compass and therefore don't deserve any help. But if you know anything about opioid addiction, you know, that this population does not fit that stereotype. Not that any addiction ever really does. These are mothers, fathers and grandmothers, they're teachers, business leaders, cheerleaders, athletes, nurses, and bus drivers. They're your brother or sister. They represent every fiber in the fabric of our society. Each person, yes, each person came to addiction in a different way, but a major cause of the current epidemic is the medical over prescription of opioid drugs for the treatment of chronic pain.
So let me ask you a question, what makes this epidemic different than other epidemics?
Dr. Hurd (03:56):
This epidemic is different in the context of what has driven it. So what drove this epidemic? As I mentioned in that, Ted me piece was the overprescription of really potent opioid drugs for the treatment of chronic pain. And many people obviously trusted their physicians. The physicians trusted the pharmaceutical companies who said that these opioids were safe. And only if you had certain personalities, quote, unquote, that you know, these opioids would not affect you and that we know is not true. So today I, I mean, when I, you know, look at that Ted bed piece, more people have continued to die and, you know, over the past five years, if we've even had nearly a doubling of people die with overdose. And that to me in this country is, is horrible. And, you know, a lot of that is even driven in the past two years with COVID where the isolation and, and continued stress has made a huge difference.
Dr. Hurd (05:05):
Plus today, the opioid epidemic is continued to be driven by the introduction now of synthetic extremely potent opioids, such as fentanyl, they're highly, highly addictive. And you know, the cartels and, you know, the different people who are selling and pushing these toxins, I call fentanyl, it's really a toxin into our society. They only need a few, few little grams to cause tremendous harm because fentanyl is nearly 50 to a hundred times more potent than morphine. So tho that combination of the initial overprescription of opioid pain medications, and now the new synthetic Canna opioid, sorry, that are in on the streets, that has become a huge problem.
So how do you begin to even treat a major opioid epidemic?
Dr. Hurd (06:07):
Yeah, that is the issue. So, you know, I don't know if many people, most people may not realize that we do have significant FDA approved treatments for opioid addiction for actually over nearly over the past 50 years, for example, methadone, but these treatments and now are newer opioid agonist. They're kind of replacement therapy, they're opioids themselves, but they're not as, you know, they're controlled people, they're not as addictive. And so you, you get it from clinics that have to be monitored, right? These opioids may be diverted to the black market. So there's a lot of oversight and clinicians are only allowed to prescribe in a certain way, the, these opioid agonists. So it, it's very cumbersome to treat, you know, hundreds of thousands of people with a medication that they can't get on a pharmacy that it, you know, it has such restrictions COVID has loosened up some of the restrictions, but that becomes a problem. So how do you treat an opioid epidemic? And for me, you know, the question is what have we learned scientifically about developing non-addictive treatments that could potentially treat opioid addiction? And, and that's when part of my research started to look at cannabidiol C, which is a component on the cannabis plant
With the federal restrictions on these drugs, like marijuana. How hard is it to do the research?
Dr. Hurd (07:44):
Well in the beginning I mean, it's a very long story. We don't have that much time, but you know, in the beginning, when I started looking at this, I was actually not looking at cannabis for as a medication. I was looking at it in terms of the developmental effects of cannabis on the brain long term. But I wanted, when we did our animal models, we were always using THC and THCs that component of cannabis that gives the reward the high. And so I wanted to look at at least another cannabinoid that was in the plant and CBD cannabidiol used to be much higher in concentrations in the plant. And I said to my team, let's at least look at that. And I was surprised to see a different effect when to THC, namely, when we normally would give THC, it would increase heroin, self administration, heroin reward.
Dr. Hurd (08:34):
When we gave C B D it actually decreased heroin seeking behavior in our animal models. And so I quickly went to human clinical trials to see whether or not, but indeed decreased craving in, in humans. And it did. And in our small pilots, we then, you know continued those studies, but it was so tough to get CBD to, to, to, for our clinical studies, because it was considered cannabis, even though CBD is not addictive, it doesn't produce euphoria or high. And I remember my clinical coordinator, she had, we had to have like a security guard, follow her from the pharmacy to our, our clinical lab to give it to, to our study participants for a drug that is not addictive, has no abuse potential. And because it was under the federal laws, it took a long time for me to get my research started. And when we did, it was just a little ridiculous. Now the laws have changed federally for C B D that's derived from hemp plant because it's no longer it's under the farm bill. And so you, it's no longer a scheduled drop, but there's still some challenges.
So let's switch direction a little bit and talk about cannabis as a whole. That was the basis of your original research. About 70% of states have legalized medical marijuana, about 15 states have legalized recreational marijuana. So is it safe?
Dr. Hurd (10:19):
You know, that's a, an important question and it is funny many people don't ask me the question in the same way that you have just done. That's very direct. And that's a question that we all have when you're, when we are saying that something can be used by the majority of people in, in the country that it's medicinal and that recreationally, they can use it. Our questions should be isn't safe. And I can say that that's a complex answer because it depends on a number of factors. One, we know that cannabis today is very different from the cannabis that was, you know, when you see the sixties, seventies, hippie love generation and all of that, the cannabis, the THC that's the psychoactive component in cannabis that was in the plant. Then's about 4% today. It's like 15 to 24% THC. And there are strains with over 70% THC and kids dabbling a way of taking cannabis now with nearly 80, 90% THC.
Dr. Hurd (11:24):
So it's a completely different drug. It really is very detrimental, very hard hitting on the brain. So with high concentrations of THC, those are not safe. Another thing that comes back to safety is that these strains that as they've increased the THC concentrations, they have decreased C B, D, and C B D cannabidiol. We see had protective effects. And so that's another thing, but a third thing about safety comes back to who's taking it. So a lot of research I've gone in and seen that the developing brain is extremely sensitive to cannabis. So we see that it increases it, it changes the brain to increase the risk for psychiatric disorders later in life. And that is a huge problem. So that to me is a important aspect about safety. When we are talking about, you know, who can use these, these, these very potent drugs, but they are cannabis is now a very, very potent drug. It's not some mild thing, you know, as I said, that people used to consume, and it it's very different
In a household with kids and parents who smoke weed, does secondhand smoke have a deleterious effect like it does with cigarette smoke?
Dr. Hurd (13:00):
So, I mean, a number of studies are currently going on to look at that, but the CDC, I mean have shown one more children today are indeed being exposed to secondhand cannabis, similar to what you just mentioned as to sick secondhand cigarettes, more so than ever before. And it comes back to that, obviously, since it's now legal, many more parents are using it at home research in mainly when you can look at preclinical, animal models have shown that it does have an impact. So the, you know, early life exposure to THC in particular does change their children's vulnerability to anxiety disorders aggression, things like that. And we see that even in, we have a study that we looked at the prenatal effects of cannabis and have been following their children for a number of years. And you can see that the children definitely have increased behavioral clinical. It's not just observational is clinical behavioral maladaptive, you know, responsive, like I said, aggression, anxiety hyperactivity disorder. So there is something about, you know, as I said, if we are in household that the parents use cannabis, it's really critical that they keep it away from the children and that they should realize that, that there is an issue of secondhand smoke that gets into the kids.
Another thing that concerns me about this recreational use of cannabis is the effect on driving ability. I'm located in Florida, where the driving is bad enough as it is without a immediate test for cannabis. And let me say, intoxication, is there any way to prove a, a disabled driver?
Dr. Hurd (15:07):
Yeah, I mean, so one of the things that's happening more and more, they are trying to de to develop, and there are few devices being studied right now that law enforcement can use just like the, you know, inhaler for alcohol content. They're now developing that for cannabis for particular THC, definitely when they've taken blood levels of people who have been driving, you know, under the influence, they see that there is indeed a, a significant percentage of people and in vehicle vehicular deaths that indeed had cannabis in their system. So we know, you know, we think about when people consume cannabis, you know, recreationally to feel good, get high. One of the things that cannabis also works on in our brains is our, our motor coordination. So it's not surprising that if you, you know, recently consumed cannabis, your motor coordination is gonna be off. And so that's what they are seeing when they look at, you know, the data of people who have been driving quote unquote, under the influence. And it turns out it's not just alcohol, that they do see arise in cannabis THC content in their bodies or blood, I should say,
Mm-Hmm, <affirmative> let me switch over to basically the audience of this podcast, which is mostly senior citizens. The use of cannabis in seniors has increased dramatically. I think, with the lifted restrictions on the sale of medical and recreational marijuana and media articles touting the benefits of cannabis for the elderly, for relief of chronic pain, depression, headaches, insomnia, dementia, everything. Yeah. Is there any validity to this?
Dr. Hurd (17:12):
So there, you know, again, a complex question because the answer is complex because we don't have all the answers BEC there's a lot of research that our net that's now in place to be able to answer those questions. So I'll start with a couple of things, as you know, what we saw in, you know, in the developing brain and cannabis exposure, it, you know, impacting on and anxiety, an anxiety promoting anxiety, promoting cognitive decline, and so on. There are some studies that you actually see can see the opposite in senior adults, meaning that cannabis THC in particular can improve cognitive, but this is where perhaps then, you know, these, those studies gets blown up and get into the media. That cannabis is now the cure for everything. And when you look at the use of cannabis in studies of senior adults, it's low dose cannabis.
Dr. Hurd (18:17):
It's not about the recreational cannabis, it's low dose cannabis. And we're still trying to understand why at the both ends of our developmental you know, life that we see the opposite effects that bad cannabis went early and potentially having some, you know positive impact on conviction. Later in life, we know that our natural and endogenous cannabinoid system, we call it the endocannabinoid system that by many other systems, it decreases as we get older. And the endocannabinoid system is really critical. I mean, aging is a natural physiological process and we all want healthy aging, but that comes with some gradual continuous decline for a number of things, including cognition. The endocannabinoid system might parallel that decline. So perhaps low dose THC might help to bring back some of the homeostatic balance, but we don't know who may benefit and who may not. And as I said, dose matters.
Dr. Hurd (19:24):
So it's not for seniors to go and smoke the cannabis that their grandkids might hand them because those are extremely potent. And in fact, we see the opposite effect. We can see that it produces very detrimental effects even in the seniors and even to the aspect of confusion, increased confusion motor problems, so that people fall down break bones. I mean, that's the, the thing that, so it's the cannabis preparation matters for seniors a lot. And we still are also trying to understand this aspect about chronic pain and cannabis. And there are now studies going on with CBD Canol to see if that could also alleviate pain. We know that it alleviates anxiety. There are not that many studies with CBD in, in senior adults. And those are things, I mean, studies that are, I think a few may starting. And I think that that's important because some animal studies showed that it actually was not beneficial in their senior acts. So it's those matters the combination of THC and C B D matters and what you're trying to alleviate so pain, there's still a lot that people don't know. And then you might need a little THC, but that's the thing that, as I said, you know, there are so many questions that are left unanswered, not only for senior adults, but in large part, that is an important question for us, because as you said earlier, we do see this huge increase in cannabis use in, in, in the elderly population.
But there's no way reliably to tell what the dosage is on the percentage of either component,
Dr. Hurd (21:16):
Not right now, unless you wanna participate in a clinical trial <laugh> so, yeah, exactly. So you're not going to like, you know as I said, if you get it from your grandson or granddaughter, our daughter, you know, in the sense of they're not gonna know what's in there, are, are there dispensaries and that sell cannabis in an, I would say ethical manner. Yes. However, even when they have, they are supposed to have the contents of the, the, the product, the cannabis product, so everyone could understand it, but they've gone in and tested a number of those products and the content is even incorrect.
Mm-Hmm <affirmative>. So
Dr. Hurd (22:01):
I think, you know, it's really critical to whatever decisions, you know, people take about using cannabis or using C P D. They need to make sure they talk with their doctors as well. And as we get older, many of us will start taking, you know, different medications, right. And these cannabis does and can interact with a number of medications. So that's a thing I think as well, people think that cannabis is benign and it does, you know, it's not like other drugs, like heroin or cocaine, but it is a bioactive substance that, you know, interacts with a lot of your, your most organs that will tell you contain cannabinoid receptors. So when you're ingesting cannabis, it's not just your brain, it's a lot of the other organs that's impacted. And those other organs, whether it is your heart for cardiac issues, we know that cannabis and especially chronic cannabis use can cause myocardial infarctions. We, you know, all, so many organs are impacted by our endogenous cannabinoid system. So it's important that you speak with your doctor
Cannabis, interreact with a lot of drugs that seniors commonly take. Like, can you give us some examples?
Dr. Hurd (23:31):
So, I mean, as a hypertensive drugs you know, pain, medications, sedatives, anti-anxiety medications anti-depressants so, you know, it's a broad scope. And that's why, as I said, you know, it's really critical to speak with your doctor because the medications that you're on cannabis and even C B D, which even though C B D doesn't make you high, and it doesn't have those negative effects like THC, it too, is a pharmacological agent and can interact with a number of those things, as I said. So that's why it's really important to, you know, to speak with your doctor, to know which medications that you're taking, how they may interact,
Good advice even C B D. I wanna stress that even interacts,
Dr. Hurd (24:27):
Even CBD can have ADI. And I love CBD. I mean, when I started studying CBD, the world really did not know about CBD. And today, now everybody knows about it. You know, it's in your water, it's in your coffee. And people think, therefore that it is safe and yes, you're, it's not gonna make you high, but it can interact with the medications that you have. It can interact with. You know, I said, antidepressants, it can interact with, you know, analgesic that you're given. It's really critical. There's no drug on this planet that is so completely benign that it doesn't interact with something else. And so even CBD.
So from a scientific standpoint, what is your opinion, our opinion on this rush to legalize marijuana,
Dr. Hurd (25:26):
You know, it's been a journey also for me. So initially I was against legalization because of the population that I was studying, namely the developing brain, young people, where we saw much greater psychiatric vulnerability. And so even though we say we legalize something for adults and teens and kids won't get access to it, we know that's not true. We have a lot of kids who, you know, obviously use a lot of drugs, but the one aspect of the legal, the legalization of cannabis has been to destroy, destroy a lot of communities. So this war on drugs, you know, you arrest everybody, you can't arrest yourself out of addiction. And we have seen that our criminal justice system now is overloaded by so many people because of drugs yet, still it has exacerbated the, the problem. So to me, I would rather them use that money for actually developing treatments for that really work for these individuals to get their lives back, give their, improve their communities, money used for research healthcare.
Dr. Hurd (26:44):
I think that that to me is a much more positive way of than, you know, destroying communities and, and, and individuals also, ironically, when it was illegal, it was tough for us scientists as researchers to actually study it. So many people will say, oh, but cannabis has been around for, you know, thousands of years, they've done all this research. And so we know everything and that's not true. The legalization, you know, the, the fact that was so challenging to work with because of its legal status meant that most scientists did not study it. So it's just, now that we're starting to look at it and it's a very complex plan. So when people think that cannabis is cannabis, it's not, so you have over 140 cannabinoids in that plant plus over 400 other chemicals. And they're now making all these new strains of cannabis, which one is the best one to use for which disorder we don't know.
Dr. Hurd (27:46):
And so unless we have an easier way of doing research, that to me is a problem. But overall, I think, you know, the criminalization and destruction of communities is not the way. So I don't think that not for open legalization. I think that when they legalized cannabis, they should have even consulted with scientists and physicians, which they didn't. So for example, dose matters. And if they had legalized, perhaps, you know, the original plant, which was about 4% THC, that to me, I wouldn't have had a problem with initially, but there's no restriction. And now you have plants that are really a completely different drug. It's so potent. And why do we need, you know, more destructive things for the brain on the body? I don't understand that. I think that we need more, you know, we can develop cannabis in, in as medicine in a much more holistic and strategic manner to help people with research. And that's not what they did. So that's a pet peeve of mine.
<Laugh> the government has a way of doing that sometimes.
Dr. Hurd (29:05):
Yeah. And they go down a very negative path when it could actually have been positive development for, for everybody.
Thank you for coming on. You cleared up an awful lot of information for us. This was extremely thought provoking, and I appreciate you sparing the time to come on.
Dr. Hurd (29:30):
Thanks for having
Me. Thanks again.
Dr. Hurd (29:34):
Bye. Bye. If you found this podcast interesting, fun or helpful, we'd appreciate it. If you tell your friends and family and click on the follow or subscribe button, wherever you listen to podcasts until next time, I'm Larry Barch. And you've been listening to specifically for seniors.
Jim Richardson has built his photographic career around visual storytelling by creating groundbreaking work in documentary, resource issues, environmental photography and the critical concerns of feeding the planet.
Before concentrating his working life at National Geographic for the last 30+ years he was noted for his innovative documentary narratives of rural life and adolescence that won him special recognition in the World Understanding contest three times (1975, 1976, 1977) and the Crystal AMI for best multimedia presentation in the world in 1983. For National Geographic he pioneered fresh visual narratives of water issues in the 1990’s before beginning his work on food, agricultural development, and the problems surrounding feeding our growing (and hungry) world.
Besides teaching at the Missouri Photo Workshop, Photography at the Summit workshops, Santa Fe Photo Workshops and many others, he was co-founder and content developer of the National Geographic TRAVELER photo seminars. He speaks world-wide on food issues and his longtime fascination with the culture and landscape of Scotland. Among numerous awards he is proudest that his fellow National Geographic photographers named him their “Photographer’s Photographer” in 2014 and the people of Cuba, Kansas (Pop. 186) named him their “Honored Citizen.” He is co-founder of Eyes On Earth, an educational initiative that seeks to inspire a new generation of visual storytellers for the Anthropocene era. In 2017 Kansas State University bestowed an honorary doctorate for his work in cultural and environmental communications.
Photographer Jim Richardson has produced more than 50 stories for National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler magazines. Jim’s work on environmental issues for National Geographic magazine has covered topics ranging from feeding the planet to protecting our night skies from light pollution. Proud of his Celtic roots, Jim has focused on the British Isles, Ireland, and especially Scotland for the last 20 years, including two years photographing the Celtic realm for the March 2006 National Geographic article "Celt Appeal.”
Years later, he covered the Scottish Moors for the May 2017 National Geographic article “Who’s Moors Are They?” He also shot and wrote “My Scottish Obsession" for National Geographic Traveler, as well as stories on Orkney, Edinburgh, the Outer Hebrides, the Inner Hebrides, and Scottish Whisky Country. More recently, his photographs appeared in a guide to the best of Scotland in the October/November 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveler ("From Mist and Stone"). Jim teaches and speaks internationally, and is co-founder of Eyes On Earth, which mentors young environmental photographers.
Published widely, he has also been profiled on CBS News Sunday Morning and ABC's Nightline, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate for his contributions to environmental and cultural understanding. Richardson was voted as the National Geographic "Photographer's Photographer" by the Society's assignment photographers in 2015.