If you’ve lost a loved one, you know how much photography matters. These little slices of time we capture in photographs are sometimes all that is left behind of a person.
My father passed away twenty years ago this year in December. He was 51 years old, and it was sudden. An accident. One day he was there and the next day gone. My family and I have our memories of him, a few sentimental items (the guitar being a big one), and some photos. My father was 21 in the photograph Brandon is holding.
My son, now fourteen, never met his Grandpa Eli. He only knows him through me. The stories I tell, the name I gave him, the photos I have to share. I’ve tried to help him know this missing grandfather, this person who meant so much to me, but it’s hard. My dad will never be fully real to my son. I can only give him snippets and impressions. A 2D portrait instead of the 3D person.
When the PhotoArts Guild picked the theme of “Life and Death” for our biennial exhibition, it was a chance to go outside my tree-lined comfort zone and create an image that was personal. Something that speaks to the loss of death and the continuation of life. Life always goes on after loss. Always.
Nothing expresses that quite so much as the parent-child relationship. My father to me to my son. Here, in this image, three generations are connected through the camera lens. Across space and time, there is still a connection. A photograph can remind us of that.
The “Life and Death” exhibition of the Willamette Valley PhotoArts Guild is up through December 11, 2015 at LaSells Stewart Center Giustina Gallery on the Oregon State University campus. My photograph received a “Special Mention” from Julia Bradshaw, the director of the Oregon State University photography program.