A few months ago my dear friend, Tom Kirkpatrick, took his own life. Today he would have turned 23, and I’ve been listening to all his favorite bands. I smile when I think that he is probably dancing like a big, goofy nerd wherever he may be. Tom was an incredible man, someone whom you could tell anything that was on your mind, and know that he would accept you as you are. A talented musician and dedicated friend, I am so lucky to be someone who was able to spend time with him during his short life. It was after a long walk around town, catching up on our lives and sharing stories, that I took the image above. It is the only photo I ever took of him, and I regret never doing a full photoshoot, but I feel the image captures so much of his spirit and wit. This photo holds a lot of emotional gravity for me, as it became the photo displayed at his funeral.
For those of you who do not follow my blog, I have been working on a photography series called Anisocoria. The series is based on the recreation (and often reinterpretation) of crux moments in people’s lives, many of them my own. It is a mix of interviewing, self portraiture and collaboration with those who I have interviewed. Tom’s death was a crux moment for me, and it was also one for Alex, one of Tom’s best friends. I went to speak with Alex and asked him about some of the details surrounding the end of Tom’s life. I’m grateful I’ve had sometime to talk with and share memories of Tom.
While I still have a huge range of feelings concerning Tom’s death – sadness and loss, anger and confusion, and, sometimes, peace – I realized that I, as an artist, needed to create something for Tom (or maybe for myself, or Alex, or anyone who cared for him) that expressed my mix of confusion, sadness, peace and reverence for his memory.
I had been saving the location of the underpass in Albany for a photoshoot, and it seemed the perfect location to create an image for Tom. Alex and I drove out to Albany and had a great evening sharing stories and creating an image.
The two final images from our shoot are seen below. While I originally thought an image of Alex on the phone would be the moment I wanted to create, the second image is the one that speaks to me.