A Father’s Day Thank You

Most Father’s Days I place a phone call or card in the mail to my Dad to wish him a Happy Father’s Day but this year, I’m fortunate enough to get to spend it with him in person.   He has given me so much over the years and I, in return, have given him countless shirts, bow ties, robes and slippers for Father’s Day.  Somehow all the store-bought gifts don’t seem to add up to very much in comparison.  This year, however, I’m giving him my time.

This casual portrait of my Dad was made during one of my visits with him last year.

I feel it’s the most I can do for a guy who’s done so much for me throughout my life.  It’s hard to even begin to tick off all the things that he has done for me–things like helping me learn to tie my shoe, to ride a bike,  to throw a ball, to grow a flower and how to take a good picture with my little camera.  My Dad has been not only my Dad but my best mentor in photography passing along his love and vast knowledge for the art.   I worked alongside him in his portrait studio and camera shop from the time I was 12 through most of my college years until I moved away.

Working in the camera study with him, I learned the principles of good portrait photography–composition, lighting, proper posing techniques and how to bring out a person’s best features.  I also learned how to do everything that came after the image was on film–to develop, print, spot and retouch–but it was in the camera room where his love for the art came into sharpest focus.

This portrait of my father was made by my brother, Brad, also a photographer, before my Dad retired at age 70. He’s standing beside the 8×10 back camera that we used in his studio to make thousands of beautiful portraits.

Each person who stepped before his camera presented a new challenge, an opportunity to try a new idea or a different approach as to how to best capture that individual on film.  And I learned that each and every one deserved the best you could give because what you were creating for them wasn’t simply a picture, it was a portrait that would become part of their family–an heirloom if you will–for a very long time . It was a priceless education, one  that continues today as I still ask for his opinion and critique of my professional work as I strive to improve and grow as a photographer.

At 92, he remains my most valuable and toughest critic.  I am lucky to still have him with me to phone whenever I need to ask a question, to consult when I need help with a problem and to console me when I think I could have done something better.  Yes, he’s my Dad and I have so much to thank him for.  Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

5 thoughts on “A Father’s Day Thank You

  1. Cheryl, a very nice tribute to Leon. Hope you guys are having a good time, great photo of the Kansas wheat field and also of you at the table….Cris

  2. Cheryl, you have left me with tears in my eyes for the Dad that you had and one that I did not. I loved my Dad, non the less, even though I did not find this out until he was very old indeed. Thank you for the visuals, for making me proud to have sat in your Dad’s studio at one time and had him make me look glamorus afterward. You are so very blessed to have him still, Always and much love, Mona

  3. Thank you, Mona for the lovely memory, I have just returned from having spent two weeks with my parents and from having had the good fortune to take my Dad to his Army reunion. He was the only World War II veteran present. Believe me, there’s not a day goes by that I don’t realize how fortunate I am to still have him around.

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