It’s interesting to me how a person’s mood at a particular point in life can filter his or her perception of the surrounding world. If a person is negative (angry, depressed, etc.), then that person will likely have a negative judgement of others. If a person is positive (happy, at peace, etc.), then they will likely notice positive traits in others. I was pretty pissed off around the end of January 2008, due to getting laid off from a staff photography job at a San Diego-based newspaper.
I found myself floundering about, trying to figure out my next step. Something provoked me to pick up a Richard Avedon book. I forget what compelled me, but I’m glad I did. I remember reading about Avedon’s portrait sessions with his father, Jacob Israel Avedon. Avedon felt the need to document the aging process of his dad. He took a series of photographs over the last seven years of his father’s life (or at least that’s how I remember the story). That had a huge impact on me, so I set out to document my dad. Besides, I desperately needed a project.
When I started the Jack series, I approached it from a photojournalist point-of-view. My goal was to document where he was then, everything from his relationship with his cat, Mika, to his daily routine. This seemed only natural, coming out of a photojournalism job.
When I reviewed the initial imagery, I started getting depressed. It seemed everything I shot depicted this lonely, old man.
About that same time I started taking classes toward my Master of Fine Art degree. Getting back in school brightened my mood up considerably. Coincidentally around this same time, I noticed that my imagery started to naturally depict the quirky side of my dad. The images became less depressing and more humorous.
(My dad will often relieve himself without closing the bathroom door. That makes things a bit dicey when you have a friend over visiting)
Then one day, I came to the proverbial fork in the road. No joke! My career path literally shifted in one day! I no longer wanted to document my dad. Instead, I wanted to create a series of images illustrating my interpretation of him. I wanted to create a caricature of Jack DuFrene.
This image (above) was the idea that led me down a new path in Photography.
PS: I forgot to mention, it took me three different shoots to try to get the flaming BBQ picture perfect. I had to show to my dad the right way to handle the hose, so he could see my vision😉