Today would have been my dad’s 68th birthday. I had a few ideas for things I wanted to write about today, but I am having some difficulty focusing on anything besides the fact that it has been nearly a year already since my dad passed away. Everyone is affected by grief in different ways, but I think, as artists and photographers, we often tend to analyze the impact the experience of losing a loved on has had on our work. I tend to look at the bigger picture, so to speak – not just how losing a parent has impacted the way I make photographs, but how my dad influenced me when he was alive in this world.
My dad was a U.S. Marine. He graduated second in his class at Parris Island, so he was skilled, driven, determined, and like all Marines, a true perfectionist. I am not a Marine (huge shock, I know) but I have been told that I inherited his work ethic, which I have also been told I apply to my photography. I use the phrase “have been told” because my perfectionism and determination to give everything I do all of my innermost being does not seem out of the ordinary for me – it is just the way I am, and it was just the way my dad was, too. I think it is all he knew, and somehow passed this trait on to me.
I have definitely softened as a photographer as a result of losing my dad, if that makes sense. While I still love the laser precision of the Mamiya RZ67 and perfectly stored/processed film, something about expired film in a 35mm camera satisfies a part of me that I never knew existed until recently. I think a lot of this has to do with the element of surprise, chance, and relinquishing some of my control on the resulting image. It is definitely a mental exercise in letting go.
While losing my dad has impacted me in ways that I may not yet fully understand, the impact he made on me while he was alive will always outweigh the impact that losing him has had on me.
I know this post has been somewhat of a ramble, but I know that there are so many people out there who are experiencing the same thing I am experiencing. If just one person takes a glimmer of hope from what I have written here, I will have accomplished what I set out to do when I sat down to write this post. You will never “get over” losing a loved one (and why would you want to? That seems inhuman) but I promise you, it will get easier.
This post was previously published on Mortal Muses