These are a set of portraits I shot this afternoon of Daniel, my father-in-law. The family and I had just come back from the funeral of his mother. She was 93. It was a simple ceremony. No fuss. As she would have wanted. The portraits are an attempt to capture, not only the melancholy of these moments, but also the dignity and stoicism that we all posses when we are confronted by the death of a family member or cherished friend.
I was going back through my photographic archives today and came across a portrait of my wife’s stepgrandfather, Oscar, that I shot just before he passed on late last year. He lived all his life in La Louvière: an industrial city in the south of Belgium. He was a character, as you can hopefully ascertain from my portrait. R.I.P. my friend.
What is it about rust that is so photogenic? I found these two unemployed implements, looking sorry for themselves in an equally distressed looking backyard in La Louvière – a small post-industrial city in the south of Belgium. Now that I look at the image again, it could very well be a perfect metaphor for the declining fortunes of a once thriving and prosperous city. During the late 19th and early 20th century, La Louvière was the most important city in the Wallonia region of southern Belgium due to the coal mining wealth it generated. It has degenerated into disrepair in recent years. I have likened the fortunes of the city to that of another city with a glorious industrial past – the American city of Detroit. Both have fallen victim to some rust belt tightening of late. I wonder what the digital rust-free future has in store for both cities.