A look at my work from behind the curtain
“The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through my instrument and his song is in my soul..”
Dan Fogelberg, “Leader of the Band”
Every month my intention in writing this blog is to take you behind my personal curtain, so to speak, for a look at what motivates me to make a particular image.
Its not an easy task because putting a personal vision and the process for how its created into words is unlike any type of writing I've done before.
A newspaper journalist most of my working life, I spent years writing from a set of facts. Here, I'm writing from my soul, as an artist. Quite a different matter.
This month—when we celebrate Father's Day — I'm taking you “behind the scenes” for a look at what started me on my journey as a photographer, and what motivates me in every photograph I've ever taken, and probably every photograph I will ever take.
His name was Paul, my father.
A gregarious, loving soul, who fought for his country during World War II, Dad left me too young; I had just turned 14 when he died after a long struggle with multiple sclerosis. We had a short time together, for sure. But it was long enough for him to pass along a passion for photography that has sharped my life.
A salesman by trade and a small business owner, Dad loved taking pictures. His Argus C3 35mm still sits on the shelf in my studio; it seemed to be his frequent companion as our family grew.
I also have the 8 MM. Kodak movie camera he brought back from War War II, with the distance settings in meters, and directions in German.
He used both cameras to document his life with my mom, Sylvia, our lives as kids, and endless gatherings of our huge family, including aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmothers and long-time friends. They all were subject of his work.
It wasn't uncommon for dad to leave the dining room table at a family gathering, grab his movie camera, turn on a set of powerful lights, and record the proceedings as our family ate dinner. He had no sensitivity to one of the first rules for event event photography: no photos while the guests are eating!
We knew he was coming by the blinding light that preceded his arrival in the dining room.
Dad liked to document his own travels by including his feet in the bottom of at least one photo, sometimes with no shoes or socks to hide an ugly set of toes. I used that approach in my own family photos, and so has my daughter, Sarah. So the beat goes on.
When I was old enough to actually try photography, dad was there with my first real camera, an Ansco box camera and a pack of 120 roll film that get me going. That was my start.
There were years as a newspaper editor before following my photography journey full time, but even during those years, I, like my dad, had a camera by my side.