essays grief and death photography pictures

Joshua Tree I (for Richard)

March 29, 2019

I have just returned from a tour of the deserts of the Southwest: Death Valley, Palm Desert, Joshua Tree, and the Valley of Fire. It was good for Susan and me to be down that way: the desert nourishes us, especially in the late winter and early spring. I also received a lovely gift during our trip: the welcome return of the photographic spirit, which had been largely absent for me last year.

Today, as I was editing some photos from the trip, I learned that an old friend, Richard Wanderman, passed away earlier this month while I was largely incommunicado. I had known that he was seriously ill, and that his illness was most likely terminal, but I had hoped that he might make a bit of a recovery. He was often on my mind during my travels, but I wasn’t online enough to check about his condition.

I’ve known Richard in one way or another since the 1980s: he was a subscriber to my newsletter MacInTouch (which I published with my friend Ric), although our interactions were largely at trade shows. After a number of years in the ‘90s where we had minimal contact, Richard reconnected with me on Flickr. Since that time, we have had a wonderful ongoing photographic discussion, with the occasional detour into personal topics. Richard was one of the people who commented regularly on my essays and photographs, and he had deeply felt words of encouragement and care for me during Lee’s illness and after her death. I valued our connection, even if it was electronic and occasional.

Richard was a good writer; his blog is filled with interesting words, photos he liked, and links to things he thought worthy of mention. He loved photography in all its forms but was largely a practitioner of black and white (of which I am clearly not) and we had a few discussions about the merits of that particular genre. His eye, when curating black-and-white shots around the web, was quite good, which you can see if you walk through the Photography section of his blog.

While I was out shooting this past month, I kept thinking that I needed to create at least one black-and-white photo for Richard, whether it be for him to see or in remembrance of him. I don’t know what he would have thought of this shot—he was quite the critic—but I truly had hoped that we would have had one last exchange before he passed.

Godspeed, Richard. I will miss seeing your avatar light up one of my posts, and I will miss the dialog that we had over the years.

[click on the photo above to view it full-screen]

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  • Reply Karin tsiatsos March 30, 2019 at 4:29 am

    Beautiful photo.. beautifully written tribute!

  • Reply Hudson Henry March 31, 2019 at 12:34 pm

    Wonderful photo and fabulous piece. I’ve seen Richard’s comments here and will miss them. So sorry about that news my friend.

  • Reply Kitty Finklea April 1, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    Glad your photography spirit is revived with the natural beauty of the desert Rick. So sorry for the loss of a dear friend. Your words and beautiful black and white pic is a wonderful tribute to his life on planet earth.

  • Reply Mike Rodriguez April 2, 2019 at 3:01 pm

    Good writing, my friend. Looking forward to seeing more from your trip. I’ll ping you soon, update you on life, the comings and goings, etc. Take good care.

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