While I was away traveling through Japan, I received news of two deaths that hit my deeper than most. Of course, the photo world was abuzz upon hearing of the death of the great master, Robert Frank. Though he lived to a ripe old age of 94, the news was still sad to hear. Countless statements have already been made regarding Frank’s influence on the medium. My personal feelings are but an addition to the chorus. Frank’s work, particularly The Americans, fundamentally changed the way I viewed photography, and shaped the artist I would become. Raised on an early diet of Ansel Adams, upon seeing Robert Frank’s photos for the first time in college, my mind was completely blown away; he made me reconsider everything a photograph could be. Throughout my life since then, he has been a silent companion anytime I raise a camera to my eyes. Salut, Robert.
The second death hit way closer to home. A dear photographer friend of mine, Bob Ayre, died a few weeks after he was involved in a terrible car crash on a highway in northern New Mexico. I met Bob through the Fresh Eyes Photo Project. We worked together in a local youth correctional facility, teaching photography to incarcerate youths. Bob was such a sweet man, as was apparent when he was around the so called “dangerous” kids. His passion and open heart shone through in every session we taught together. Over the past several years, Bob and I grew closer, and we would occasionally meet up for lunch. We would talk travel and photography. Bob was a knowledgeable photo tour guide in New Mexico, and he honored me by taking me out on the backroads one Saturday a few years back, letting me in on his “secret” locations. He was always telling stories, and he was (not so) quick with a joke. He was a huge supporter of my photography, too, even inviting me to discuss my Portugal project with his local camera club. Bob was leading a photo tour the day he crashed his car… thankfully his guest walked away from the crash with superficial wounds. Unfortunately, Bob’s injuries were too severe for him to overcome. I am glad I was able to see him in the hospital the week after the crash. I could tell he was in pretty rough shape, but he managed to eek out a smile when I talked to hime that last time. Rest in peace old man… I’ll miss you.