The Promise of Youth


Nice family pics. Sounds like you had fun working with them. I am still in my family rabbit hole of scanning old negs. I am a bit unfocused, no pun intended, about the project and what the end results will be. I keep getting side tracked by other stuff. A couple of days ago I got a call on the land line house phone. I often don’t answer as most of the calls are robo calls or span or scammers. And If I do answer, I usually don’t say anything, knowing my voice triggers the robo voice at the other end. Caller ID said a woman’s name I didn’t know from Portland, Oregon. A timid voice asked for me. I spoke and she introduced herself and said I had taken photos of her young son David 20 years ago with another young boy. The names didn’t mean anything at that moment, too far back in my memory banks. She said it was a photo shoot for Getty. She wondered if she could buy some photos, even digital files, anything to have for his memorial service this Thursday. I kinda froze, not knowing what to say. Except of course, I would do what I could. She mentioned the name of the other boy and his mother, but I was not coming up with a face. Could I find his photos? Why not, I have never thrown any of that stuff away. So I asked her to email me, and send me a photo if she could. Anything to jar my memory. She didn’t have to. When I got off the phone, I immediately went to the basement and straight away found the binder with his film. Fortunately I had a good assistant back that labeled every roll of film with the model’s full name. And then, yes, the memory of that photo session came back to me, and all the sessions from that project. It was about children, a disc of images called Young Expressions. It was about innocence and the promise of youth.

I don’t know the details about his death, but it is sad to know he is gone. He would only be in his 30s by now. I am glad his mother was able to track me down. I am glad I made these photos, I am glad I didn’t thrown them away…. I sent them all off to her today. I hope they give her some measure of comfort. Every time I go to my basement and I look at all this work I have made I ask myself the question: Does this stuff mean anything to anyone but me? I guess I just got my answer.