My father passed away a month ago at the age of 95. An avid amateur photographer, he lived through so many changes with photography and the cameras he owned, from an old Kodak box camera to a small compact digital he used for the last years of his life. He loved to take photographs and to pose for them. One of my earliest memories is from a summer in the early 1960’s when he bought a Polaroid camera. It was something of a miracle. I loved its brown leather case and the way the Polaroid print peeled apart from the negative and smell of whole thing. Dad loved gadgets and he loved cameras of all types. He used an old Argus Rangefinder for years shooting slides long past the time that it was considered “modern.” He recorded our family trips and the everyday aspects of our lives. When I decided to become a photographer in the late 1970’s he could not have been happier. I bought an 8 x 10 inch view camera (outdated then) and photographed him with it. He was a great subject, patient while posing (although not patient in other aspects of his life). It must have reminded him of his childhood, when his mother, also an avid amateur photographer, posed him for portraits with her big 6 x 7 inch box camera.
When Dad turned ninety, I produced a book of photographs of his life for his birthday celebration. It begins with photographs of him as a very young child growing up on the farm in South Dakota. He photographed during WW II with his Army unit as they traipsed across France after the invasion, many of which are included in the book. As a child, I would sit on his lap looking at the albums he had made during that time-gruesome photographs of dead horses and bombed buildings and happier ones of his friends and his adopted dog. He never talked about that experience, leaving the photographs to speak for themselves. At the end of his life, I sat with him again and turned the pages of his birthday book. Though he could no longer talk very well, he still loved to look at the photographs. And again, no words were necessary, because the photographs really do speak for themselves. I post here, some of the great moments from the life of Dad. Some are taken by his mother, some by him, some by me or other unknown photographers. His was a life well lived and well recorded. Thanks Dad, for giving me the love of photography.