20 October, 2014

Black and White Challenge Day 1

Black and White ---  It was that when we were younger.

Believe in something... desire something... say it, do it. 

I have been watching a bit of this black and white challenge on Facebook for the last week and have seen friends pulling out little gems, little pieces of their heart from that place where special things are locked inside.  The true soulfulness of B&W... film, fixer, grain.  Our lives when nothing mattered but moments and connections.  I am actually crying while writing because in my locked place will always be this little guy Patrick.  (Here helping his foster mother administer his meds.)  Ya see, Patrick had AIDS.  Back in the early 1990's  kids still suffered, in large numbers, from AIDS contracted at birth.  

I had just moved back to California after leaving the Dallas Morning News and all I knew was that I loved telling deep stories and that I loved kids.  I was moved to action on this story by the way the media was portraying these beautiful victims... hiding them in shadow and shame.  I look at this little guys' lips and nose and remember the feel of his skin.  I was not about to let his life go by without others seeing his beauty.  Patrick was not defined by AIDS.  He was loved by everyone who was lucky enough to meet him... black and white.

I spent over 4 years photographing Patrick, his foster mom and brother, in the purist fashion of documentary photography I could muster.  One Nikon F4 and my Leica M6.  Rolls of TriX pushed to 1600.   Rushing to their sides as time after time germs made daily routine become life or death, up until Patrick's death on his 6th birthday.  I was lucky to have the story of Patrick be published in several magazines (even LIFE when it was still the best out there) and win a World Press Award where the rest of the world could see this little life that mattered.

Patrick was one of the first kids to be trial subjects for AIDS treatment protocol and I am sure that many of the drugs his body was subjected to have evolved into life saving and extending treatment for AIDS patients today...  black and white.

I might be making a long story longer here.  Pushing this simple challenge beyond what it's purpose is.  BUT we ALL know.  The tight family of photographers who document.  Whose nails once looked a bit brown from hours in the darkroom.  Our lives were touched by souls like Patrick as we recorded life on that delicate piece of film.  Black and White.  We had to go slower in those days, each frame important.  I shoot mostly digital images now and often shift them to black and white in my computer. Those images I shift out of color are usually ones which tell stories that have the soulful feel of real.

Thanks for the challenge AND the memories.