3.30.2018

A Portrait of my father.


 C.W. Tuck

I spend Sundays visiting my dad. I also visit him when I come down to San Antonio to meet with our attorneys or dad's tax guy. It's interesting to me that I've developed a closer relationship with him in the last three months than I had in the past, when my mother was alive. I think it's because, for the first time in my life, he needs my help. But at the same time he's teaching me patience and empathy.

I took this photograph after a family dinner last year at Cappy's Restaurant in San Antonio. We were celebrating my parent's anniversary and lingering in the parking lot afterwards saying goodbye. I looked over and liked the light falling on my dad so I asked him to stop for a moment. I shot a few frames. 

I like the expression. I like the background. I like the contrast of the color of his shirt and his skin tone. I wish I had taken more photographs of my parents over the years but my relationship with them was different from all the other people of whom I make portraits. 

I remember just before their 50th anniversary, well over a decade ago, I felt that we needed a definitive portrait of my mom and dad together. I didn't feel I was able to do the best job with them. I hired the firm of Parish Photography and asked that Mr. Parish himself do a session with my parents. Parish Photography had been an old guard studio in San Antonio for decades and had a wonderful reputation. Mr. Parish was also closer in age to my parents. I thought they would listen better to him; follow his directions, give expressions not nuanced by their need to be "my parents." 

Mr. Parish took them to a local park and made a series of beautiful portraits. I went through the proofs and selected my favorite shot and had 8x10 inch color prints, beautifully mounted, made for my mom and dad, my older brother and my younger sister. I also had a print made for myself. 

It's the last professional portrait I remember being taken of my parents and I'm happy to have it. 

It was an interesting exercise to actually select a photographer outside my circle of friends and acquaintances. I didn't ask about pricing, I just wanted the best fit, and to select a photographer who had a long track record of making the kind of portrait I was looking for. I have no idea what kind of camera he used. No idea about what lighting he used. All I cared about was the final result. I was looking for a mix of kind memory and aesthetic balance. It's always a learning experience to hire someone to do the thing that you do. I learned that portrait photographers can provide a very long term value to families for any number of reasons. The cost of the portrait is forgotten almost immediately, the photographs grow in value daily. Something to remember.



7 comments:

  1. Kirk, enjoy these days and be happy about them.
    After his cancer operation, my father lived for one more year and slowly detoriated. I drove him into the woods nearly every saturday and we went for a meal in an inn afterwards. When he finally collapsed, he lived for six more days in a palliative care unit. I visited him every day and we were as close as never before. These were some of the most straining days I ever experienced, but I wont miss them. I am at peace with him and hope he had a time as good as possible in this last year.

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  2. May we see the Parish portrait?
    Phil

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  3. Hi Phil, Not sure my parents and siblings would approve of the portrait being broadcast on the web. Send me an e-mail address and I'd send you a file. Thanks, Kirk

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  4. Kirk,
    It may be partially because I feel like I know your father a little bit and I know a little of his story but I really like this portrait and I think it stands on its own.
    Fred

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  5. My mom spent four years in a nursing home, and during that time I visited three times a week. We would hang out in the halls, in the courtyard, in the various gathering places. We’d visit and talk to people walking or rolling by. And I generally had a camera in my jacket pocket. I love the pictures I have of my mom and those times.

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  6. That's a lovely photo, Kirk. A portrait full of love and soul.

    Huw

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  7. Shortly after I married my wife her aunt, who had no children, asked me to handle her finances. I saw it as a burden but could not say "no". I had lunch with her once a week and got to know one of the nicest people I've had the pleasure of meeting. As I approach my older years, I hope that I can be a gift rather than a burden to those who will have to reverse roles and take care of me. It sounds like you and your father are doing well with that transition.

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