It is with heavy heart that I have to report that we lost my uncle this afternoon.
Yesterday afternoon we received a call from Darlene, my Aunt, that Michael was in the ER and that they were working to save his life. He had suffered from a brain aneurysm and ER doctors told Darlene that because of where it was it was inoperable. For the past day he had been on a ventilator and full of IV’s. He had been given ridiculously strong medicine to knock out the pain but was unable to breathe on his own, having to remain on a ventilator. It’s frustrating because he was healthy in every other way.
I haven’t lost a lot of close people in my life. My uncle is the closest person I have ever lost and I regret so much that I never made a portrait of him. I just have these grainy photos of him to remember him by. Nothing that really says who he was or what he was about.
When I was working at Black’s I nearly lost my job; photoshopping prints for someone’s funeral. I would meet a customer at the counter and with red puffy eyes they would slide a dog eared, scratched 4X6 print across the counter. This person in the photo had just passed away and they wanted an enlargement made to place by the casket. It was always some horrible photo. Never a great portrait. There would be a laundry basket in the corner. The drapes on the windows were stained. Reflections in glasses. Scratches on the print. I would take the job, put everything on hold and start to work on the scan in photoshop. This is a soul’s last known image on earth. They deserve better than this. My manager didn’t think this way. Scan and print. That’s it. I revolted and continued working on images for funerals. She wasn’t cold hearted enough to actually fire me for the few hours I would spend on those images but she wasn’t at all happy with me either.
That planted a philosophy I now have on every single shoot. “I’m shooting for this person’s funeral”. I better make images that people will want to see and remember this person by. Something that shows who they were and what they did and how they were living their life pursuing a dream.
Are you photographing those you love? I’m not. Not like I should be. Sad isn’t it? Me. A photographer who can’t turn a camera on to his own family. I have a big long list of people to get started on. You always think you have time. Sometimes you do. Most of the time you don’t.
PS – Needless to say I am leaving the office for the next few days. All normal business will proceed the start of next week.
Goodbye Mike. My god we are going to miss you. You’re finally home though. Finally in a place bigger than your heart.