A dear family friend died yesterday. I was gone for the day yesterday and returned home to the news.
And I fear I am about to confront the inadequacy of the other side of my photographic ambitions...my longstanding habit of taking record shots. (What others called "memos" or "memory shots.") Sometime soon I'm sure I'll be combing through my hard drives and contact books to see what pictures I have. Too few, no doubt. What will I have of Ned?
At least I have this. And glad of it.
As his son (my best friend in second grade, still a dear friend) correctly said, "this was a man whom essentially everyone liked."
We had a lot of warning—Ned has suffered health setbacks for years now, almost never complaining. Still, the dreaded event, when it comes, creates an unbalancing wave of loss and sorrow.
Sometimes I feel like I have so few record shots that I would have been better off as a photographer dispensing with any pretense of art or expression and simply put all my energy into recording the mundane but important personal details of my life, days, travels, and friends. I wonder if I would have made just as much "art" that way anyway? It's possible.
ADDENDUM: And speaking of departed friends, you might remember this post from a year ago about a lost college friend. Well, look what the scallopers on Nantucket Island did for her:
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Stephen S. Mack: "'...Recording the mundane but important personal details of my like, days, travels and friends.'? Sounds like a winner to me. It's what I have decided that I'm best at doing, and I'm comfortable, very comfortable with this."
Derek: "My condolences to you, your friend, and everyone else affected by this loss. Given your posts of the last few days about working styles and goals, I've been doing quite a bit of reflecting on what I've been trying to achieve with my own photography; I had basically come to the place where I had decided to lose any pretense at trying to produce something 'artistic' with my photography and simply enjoy photography's exceptional ability to record our lives and the people and events that matter to me/us. And then you post this, a poignant reminder of one of photography's most important roles. Thank you for sharing with us."
Lúcia: "My father died last Friday, his funeral was the following day, and I could hardly watch it. I was there, but I kept my eyes down during the whole service. I'm a visual person and I didn’t want to see anything, to have that scene recorded on my mind.
"The first thing I did when I came home was looking for the only 'recent' shot I took of him. It's on my desk now.
"Last August my photography teacher had asked us an assignment, we should make a portrait of someone close to us for the next class. I didn't want to choose him because I didn't want to have a photo that would remind me of a time he wasn't very well (in health and psychologically), but because of the lack of time, I didn't have other option.
"Every morning after breakfast he used to sit on his favourite spot on the living room to read the newspaper. This was his routine for the last decades. And this was the moment I thought would represent him better.
"I study photography every day, I try to practice on a regular basis, and I never had the 'idea' of photographing him the last couple months, when he was so calm, happy and smiling. I’ll regret this for the rest of my life...."
Malcolm Myers: "I have never really attempted to be artistic; it's simply not something I'm good at. My primary reason for being a photographer has always been to capture the lives of those around me, my nearest and dearest. It always gives me a sense of pride when I walk into friends' homes and see my pictures of them on the wall."
Robert Roaldi: "I have noticed that my parent's generation cherished old photos more than mine. I look through my mother's photo albums and see really interesting family, friend, and rural scenes from pre-WWII Italy. I don't have any such pics of my life, or very few. I wonder if it's because we take photography for granted or because we sort of know instinctively that our temporary suburban "landscape" was not interesting enough to record. Still though, it would be nice to have pics of some people I used to know."