I was scrolling through some old journal entries and came across this, my 'eulogy' for my dad. He died about 18 months ago after years of multiple health issues. It was a bumpy road with him, my brother, and I, but in the end he's my dad and I miss him. He was a professional photographer for 40 years, touring the world to pursue his craft. Hopefully this helps you get to know him a little better.
I hope I have a story to tell. At the end of my life, I hope that my story is remembered by my children, and by those I consider my friends, and I hope my story is worth reading.
Over the past 10 years, it has been a very tough ride for my dad, and for my brother and I as we dealt through all the pain, frustration, and loss of hope with him.
There is a sadness within me today, because I feel like one of the best books every written is now unreadable. Like there was a story so captivating just waiting to be read, to be retold, and now that story and all the stories within it are gone.
My dad lived a truly unbelievable life. Traveling around the world, being paid to photograph celebrities, stunning buildings, corporate bigwigs, and anything else you can imagine. I feel like, in the rare moments of connection with him over the years, I only got a glimpse into his lifetime full of dreaming and adventure and comedy and relationships and misfortune and sorrow and love. Like I was afraid to bend the book too much, so I just flipped through the pages and took what I could from a life that was pulled along by a talent bigger than this one person.
I say that, not to mourn and regret, but to celebrate what my dad was able to do. With a camera around his neck, I don't believe he ever saw an opportunity to take a photograph merely so it would hang respectfully on a wall above a mantlepiece. In every photograph, each and every time he pressed that button and heard the irreplaceable "click click", I believe he saw a story waiting to be translated by someone else.
Each one of these photographs is a part of his story, a place he went and a person he met, something he saw that could write a whole chapter in itself. He has left these, for us to embrace and translate into the story of our lives.
One of my favorite authors says, "Our story is what we have to offer. So much more important than being heard is having something to say." (Mcmanus, The Artisan Soul)
Often, he had too much to say. His mouth would get him into trouble. It would seemingly run away on him as he found himself swearing at a family portrait session, to my Youth Pastor, or in front of my 5th grade classroom in which he was always certain to explain himself - "You know what that means don't you, it stands for, Should Have Initiated Thinking."
His greatest talent of all, I believe, was his ability to pull your personality out of you, whether you wanted to show it or not. He was on a mission to see something real in each person he photographed and by using his ridiculous and crude vocabulary he was able to get even the toughest CEO to crack a smile, ("Just think of pink naked elephants"), or get a dancer to be as passionate about performing for an audience of one in a photo studio as she would be on stage in front of thousands ("come on darling, you hit this once, and I'll get the shot"). It's no wonder why he was sought after, and is still wildly respected by the Photographic Community.
He had something to say with each person he met at the grocery store, each nurse that took care of him, each coffee shop barista, each client he worked with, and certainly each time he was with us.
Through it all. I know he loved us.
His pain came from not being able to show us that love enough, not being able to give us the life he wished he could as we became teenagers.
As kids, he played with us and provided for us.
As we grew up, we became peers, and sometimes authorities in his life.
His love was always evident, and known.
There are more ways a father affects the lives of his children than anyone will ever realize - my father messed up a lot of things in his life. He made a lot of mistakes that cost him deeply. Yet, he fought. He should've died many times over, but he fought. He saw his screw ups, he saw the potential that wasn't met, and he somehow still always saw the potential for what was to come. And that is what he fought for. He fought for love. He fought for us. He fought for a story worth telling.
I believe we are created by a loving God, for a purpose that goes far beyond our short lives. I believe we are created to create just like God does. We are made to create art, and we are made to create futures. I believe our lives are works of art. I believe David saw something nobody else saw in this world, and he was able to use the tools available to him to capture what he saw. Most of us aren't able to do that. I pray that the legacy he leaves behind is the challenge to recognize what you have been made to do, and that you will recognize the one who made you to do that, and that you do that thing to change this world.
To my daddy, David Street, may your story inspire many more stories to be shared.