Knowing your subject

Joined
Jan 26, 2005
Messages
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Location
San Jose, CA
They say that knowing your subject is as important to portraiture as lenses and gear. I learned a lot about Larry today.

Nancy and I have worked out at the same gym for a dozen years, and have made many casual friends. A group of us go to coffee after our workouts on Saturdays, and Larry's one of the regulars... a funny guy who always has a joke and a smile. He's a total goofball at parties...

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But there's a pensive side to the man, too. He's been divorced for years, lives alone, and his kids, who he adores, don't have much time for him... unless they need something.

View attachment 6851

He really enjoys the companionship of our get-togethers, and has never missed a birthday party, a dinner, or one of our Saturday coffee chats.

View attachment 6852

Larry's had health problems for the last year. He's undergone several angioplasties, which seemed to work, but recently has been having unexplained chest pains. The doctors have him on nitro pills, and he's scheduled for testing in a few weeks, but it's been weighing on his mind. He showed up for coffee today with a little velvet box. It contained a Bronze Star, and he was uncharactistically eager to pass it around and talk about it.

After everyone had looked at it, I took him aside and asked him about the show-and-tell. He explained that when he came back from Viet Nam, nobody wanted to talk about the war. During his marriage, his wife had never expressed any interest in what he had been through, and now his kids are too busy to care. Facing his mortality, he just wanted someone to know.

I'm not going to share his story, because this post isn't about politics or war. Leave it to say that Larry was an 18 year old kid when he was drafted and sent to fight on foreign soil. He received the Bronze Star and the Distinguished Flying Cross during his two tours.

Larry let me take a few shots with his medal pinned to his chest, and for a few moments, concerns about his future vanished and were replaced with his pride in having served his country and comrades well. I tried to capture that look for you.

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We'll visit again, and I'll try to create a more picture essay, because, hopefully, his kids and grandkids may care some day. At least I was able to let him know that I do.
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2005
Messages
978
Location
Viera Fl
Frank,
Very touching. Tell Larry he is not alone in the others that don't care.
Thank him for me for his great service to our country.

Nice jesture Frank.
Thank you very much for sharing your great friend.
 
Joined
Feb 21, 2005
Messages
609
Location
Ottawa, Ontario
Excellent essay, both photographically and journalistically, on an interesting guy. Well done Frank.

Personally, I would like to read more of his story about the Bronze Star. It's not that I supported the war in Vietnam, quite the opposite, but my disagreement was with the governments of the day and NOT with the men who had to go fight it.

In some ways it has been one of the worst legacies of that conflict that those who fought it were so ostracized when they came home. As a result many locked things inside themselves that shouldn't have been locked there. For some that has led to some pretty stuffed up things happening in their lives that might not have happened had there been more understanding.

Sorry, I seem to have gone off on unintended and possibly inappropriate tangent.

Again, the best I can say is that you've done a great job there Frank.

Neil
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2005
Messages
1,011
Location
San Jose, CA
NeilCam said:
In some ways it has been one of the worst legacies of that conflict that those who fought it were so ostracized when they came home.
I couldn't agree more, Neil. I'm not going to post Larry's story, because this essay is about his situation today, not what happened 34 years ago. Suffice it to say that he was willing on two occasions to trade life to save his buddies, but through luck and the grace of God, didn't have to.

I just hope my photo did him justice.
 

PGB

Joined
Jan 25, 2005
Messages
7,986
Very touching UF. Larry has my admiration and thanks for his service to our county.

Thank you,
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2005
Messages
1,011
Location
San Jose, CA
Thank you all for your sensitive comments. I don't think I'm going to tell Larry I posted his story on the Internet, but I will say I talked about his service to several friends, and they offered their thanks and prayers. I'm sure it will mean a lot to him 8) .
 

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