Since the passing of my grandfather in April, I haven’t had the chance to reflect or absorb its finality or nature. I haven’t been able to, or more accurately, wanted to, contemplate and comprehend the impact he has had upon me, as an artist and as a person. It is easier to remain busy like many other Americans with a Type A+ personality, and push it out of the forefront of my mind.
It is easier not to deal with things than to deal with them.
With my time as photographer at the Air Force Academy, I am no stranger to photographing funerals. It is actually one of the ways I feel that I am most giving back, by deeply connecting in sorrow with those left behind, and honoring those who have gone. It didn’t hurt any less whether or not I knew them personally (yes the ones I had a personal connection with cut my heart more deeply), but I was able to grieve with them all from behind my lens, our collective tears creating an unspoken bond.
As one of the photographers in the family, (four of us professionally, three blood relatives and one by marriage) I chose to lend my love and support by contributing the only way I really knew how…by working.
I photographed the funeral of my grandfather, and conveniently semi-detached myself from the sea of emotions my family was feeling. I essentially missed his funeral in the essence of the moment. While I was capturing the moment for others, as well as for myself.
I recently edited those photographs, and as expected, the emotions of the day came flooding back. It is amazing to me how a photograph can be so powerful.
I showed the images to my grandmother and watched her reaction as she relived the day, the loss of her partner of 65 years.
Seeing my father react to the loss of his father, a stoic portrait of composure gracefully interrupted by tears; makes me realize that there will be a day I am in the same position…but not from behind the lens of a camera.