Early Works

Eric & Dan, 1991


I found this photograph buried in a box of my father's pictures last summer. I don't remember seeing it before, but my dad says it is the first photograph I ever took when he taught me to use a camera around age eleven. From that moment on, I followed in his footsteps as a photographer.

In this picture, my godfather Eric looks out at the sea in bright euphoria, while my father, distracted, pulls at a bothersome piece of hair stuck on his lip. It is charmingly telling of their relationship: Eric overlooking the substance of the world and my father thrown out of whack by every imperfection. They were best friends, with a kind of closeness I rarely see in men. When we moved to another city or state, Eric moved too.

Eric and I were also close. He listened with fascination to everything I said, looking at me the way he looks at the ocean in this photograph—without holding anything back.

I wasn't prepared for Eric to die when I was a teenager, but in a strange way, I think he was ready. He slept over at our house one night and never woke up. The night before, he told my father that he had finally broken through his worst fears and he was ready to turn his life around. I was almost proud of him at the time, but his absence is still tangible in our lives. My dad is alone in the images I make today.