Some could call Lincoln County native Gretchen Robinson a jack of all trades since her 40-year career has included newspaper and broadcast television writing, teaching, independent filmmaking and photography and company CEO, but of all the “hats” she’s worn, she told the Times-News that video production is her favorite.
For the next three weeks, the Lincoln County community will have the opportunity to view her work in a special collection entitled “Places and Spaces” at Fausto Coffee in downtown Lincolnton.
Only three of the photos, which feature the culture of the Yaruba Village near Beaufort, S.C., along with the people and sites of Europe “doing their little things,” she said, were produced using digital technology. A majority of her display was created through film.
Fausto will also air one of her documentaries during business hours each day.
Robinson told the Times-News she’s passionate about capturing the world around her every chance she can.
“It’s life,” she said.
She also encouraged amateur photographers and filmmakers never to stop practicing their art.
“You can think about it, but in photography and filming, you have to do it,” she said. “When you start doing it, you will find you can do it better. You may not think much of your ability to start with, but you’re going to look back and realize it wasn’t bad at all.”
Robinson began her career with still photography, but she felt a different kind of passion when she first picked up a motion picture camera in her 20s.
“I fell in love with it,” she said. “The statement you can make with a motion picture is like real life, and I dedicated myself … to giving people a voice who don’t have a voice.”
She lets the films serve as a platform for conveying other cultures’ stories.
“People do all the talking,” she said. “They tell the whole story, and you learn a great deal.”
However, she can’t deny the similar statement a photo can emit, particularly after years of being taken.
“There’s a reason you took that picture,” Robinson said, “and when you look back at it…it’s an even greater statement because time makes it an ever greater statement. Take pictures for documentation because memories and people change. You forget things.”
In addition to being a camera and film expert, the Lincolnton resident has worked as a newspaper reporter-photographer for papers in Greenville, N.C., and Columbia, S.C. She’s also spent portions of her career at television news stations in Greenville and Asheville and served a year at Greenville Senior High School, teaching journalism and turning the school paper into a community-wide favorite.
While she’s technically only produced less than a dozen documentaries throughout her life, through American Image Makers, Inc., the company she founded and over which she currently serves as CEO, she’s crafted numerous marketing and training videos –what she considers to just be shorter versions of her films.
“You can look back, and it still be current,” she said. “They are timeless.”
Her documentaries have been aired on PBS, at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London and Oxford University and the World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tenn., among other notable locations.