Black Friday. A pithy name for the day after Thanksgiving in the United States, designated as the beginning of crazed holiday shopping. It will forever have another significance to our family. Our daughter’s marriage was crumbling, and the man, who had promised ten years before to love her always, snapped and set fire to their home. The shell of the house remained intact; the interior was utter devastation.
I had been back to the house with family members after the fire to do a walk-through with insurance, police and fire investigators. It stunned me into numbness, never having witnessed something of this magnitude, and I tried to overpower the ugly by creating beauty through my photography on a day to day basis.
In an online photography course I was taking, an assignment was given for a photo essay, the theme being our choice. We were reminded of photographer Dorothea Lange’s quote of picking a theme and working it to exhaustion, the subject being something we truly loved, or truly hated. I woke up one morning and knew I had to go back to that house (now being torn apart in preparation to begin reconstruction) and make this my essay.
The first day I pretty much forced myself to go. It was raining and all I could do that day was sit in the car, cry, and take photos through the car’s window. I subsequently went back many more days, met the workers, and took a lot of photos in an attempt to tell the story of the aftermath. I asked one of the workers if this job wasn’t depressing, and without hesitation, his response was that he saw it as a new beginning.
Not too many days after the fire I deleted every photo I had in my files that had anything to do with the house pre-fire. While working on this assignment, I ran across one photo I had missed; a photo that I had taken of a pineapple plant that our daughter had planted in a pot on her front porch when she first moved in
I have hundreds of photos I took during this assignment, and may post one here and there in the future.
A special thanks to Otto Von Muenchow for his online class, and excellent guidance for this essay.