New York, December 15, 2013. My father passed away last year on 9th April. He was born on the 15th of December. Though trained as a Geologist/Geophysicist who later switched to management, his first passion was photography – black and white in particular. He even had his own darkroom in our house. I remember growing up surrounded by photography books of incredible artistry, old Time-Life books, National Geographic magazines and several different types of Art magazines on various techniques and styles of taking photographs.
In his days he had won quite a few awards for his work, but playing it “safe,” had never pursued photography as a full-time profession. A pity, (though in retrospect I can see why) as he had chosen to be a family man, and had not pursued his inner Dionysian adventurous traveling spirit that had taken him around to photograph parts of the world. He’d even been asked in his early days to join a film crew as its still photographer/cinematographer. Afraid of taking a financial risk, since the director himself – a family friend – was hard-pressed on budgets, he did not. The director would later go on to become one of the most celebrated independent art film makers of all time, widely regarded as one of the greatest auteurs of world cinema – especially his black and white films – and go on to receive a lifetime achievement Oscar before his death (Satyajit Ray).
Yes, Art does not pay much, or at least – unless there is early luck – it is a long journey before recognition and wealth comes by. So Art has to be pursued for Art’s sake alone.
I noticed on his camera which I went through after his funeral that, just days before his death, he had tried to take some more pictures re-capturing his early days, but it was an automatic digital color camera, and the textures, subtleties, shadow and light of black and white photographs he loved taking and hand-processing in the old-fashioned chemical way was a dying and near-dead craft, alas.
For his birthday, I am placing just a few pictures that he’d taken, since he had taken thousands – architecture, landscapes, people, still life – which now remain neatly filed in boxes or hang framed upon the walls of the home he lived in with my mother. Some day I hope to scan and archive his entire collection.
Life is short, and it is important to tell our parents we love them. He died before I could see him one last time – it was a sudden very unexpected painless death – good for him but a sudden shock for us – I’d seen him last 15 months before he died as I kept procrastinating my trip across the pond, and the last I’d spoken to him was a month before his death. I so wish I’d spoken more, called more……..
More reason to tell our parents more often, while they are with us, how we appreciate them for having taken care of us – from the time we came as helpless blobs into this planet till we could fly on our own.
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Goodbye, dad. Rest in peace.