When Bill came into the room and stood for his portrait, I took notice. He’s not generally one to volunteer for a photograph like this, I thought. We had finished some long-awaited family pictures in the backyard, and I continued indoors making simple high-key portraits of everyone into the evening.
My mother-in-law asked me more than once, “Why are you taking these?” I didn’t know, really. I suppose I was simply compelled.
This was the first of only two frames I made of Bill before he walked away. The second was out-of-focus, but I knew the first one was strong, and focused – so I was pleased.
The next day, my wife Rebecca and I headed home. It wasn’t but a few days later were we awaken to the sad news that her dad Bill had passed away in his sleep.
Back to California we all went to mourn his passing and to console each other in our grief.
This portrait, I believe the last picture made of Bill, was displayed at the memorial. I think it’s a powerful image of a man who is at peace, and without fear. He walked right over and offered this powerful message to the camera as if to say, I am fine. All is well. You be good, too.
I have reflected since on the power a photograph can hold. Sometimes words are not sufficient. Sometimes much more can be expressed in an image. Bill didn’t use words to communicate in his final days, but I think he spoke volumes in his offering for this image.
As a photographer, I can’t help but to feel very thankful for this exchange, thankful that Bill trusted me enough to communicate so openly and honestly.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised – all who shared time with Bill will tell you that he was truly a great man.
You will be missed.
In Loving Memory – Bill Egbert – 1946-2013