David is With the Angels Now

Uploaded 26 Jun 2008 — 20 favorites
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© Laura Hartley
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Photo license: © All rights reserved

This is David, one of the most beautiful men I have ever known. This was shot eight years before he finally succumbed to the ravages of AIDS. He had me take these shots from a few yards away so the purplish spots from the Kaposi's Sarcoma would not be visible.

I loved him so much.

We dated in High School, before he came out, and he was a magnificent friend and companion. Huge, golden brown eyes in a cherub's face. He even had the curly locks.

Here, David sat so, so still for me, in the minimal light of the train station. He froze for me for a 1/30th exposure, and resultingly, his face looks like a statue. Indeed, as Nelson and others have pointed out below in commentary, when I printed this, I was astonished at how still and stuary David appeared - as though his face were cement, and no dodging and lightening changed it, and I tried for, literally, hours. His countenance was clearly meant to stand as it does. Surely, a harbinger of what was to come.

David was the most popular and handsome guy at school, and as his ardent lover, first, and then pal, once he came out, it was hideous to watch the ravages this disease took on him, and yet, NOT upon his soul.

I will always remember him this way; pensive, quiet, gorgeous, and only 38.

I will miss him very much.

God Speed, Dave. I love you.

(Gelatin silver print, scanned - Mamiya C330, Tri-X film.)

21 responses

  • J. Harris Blacklist

    J. Harris Blacklist gave props (26 Jun 2008):

    I understand.

  • John Linton

    John Linton gave props (26 Jun 2008):

    Great capture...I'm glad he wanted you to take it.

  • Kevin Leger

    Kevin Leger said (26 Jun 2008):

    He lives on in you and now, in us as well.

  • Nelson Campbell

    Nelson Campbell (Deleted) gave props (26 Jun 2008):

    such interesting pose - as if in preparation for actual life-less-ness...

  • peggy gardner

    peggy gardner gave props (26 Jun 2008):

    you are truly a gifted and deeply passionate artist and this is very representative of you in those areas.

  • Catherine Kurvink

    Catherine Kurvink gave props (26 Jun 2008):

    A truly timeless image, Laura. He was lucky to have you as his friend.

  • Laura Hartley

    Laura Hartley gave props (26 Jun 2008):

    Peggy, Cathi, and everyone above - thank you. Peggy, exactly RIGHT NOW, at this moment, this very nano-second in my life, you could NOT have said a more touching or moving thing. Sometimes, even the most practiced photographers doubt their own skills. I often feel like a dinosaur, having wasted my parent's money studying the dark room in college, in this digital age. And yet, I press on, hoping to make some senss of the world, and to spread the joy, the sorrow, the light. I KNOW you know what I mean...

  • Penny Nannini

    Penny Nannini   said (26 Jun 2008):

    So very sorry Laura. This is a beautiful tribute to him.

  • Warren ~Mangione~

    Warren ~Mangione~ gave props (26 Jun 2008):

    Loss is so hard to accept. I always ask myself, what would this person want for me now. I usually think that they would not want me to suffer from their leaving. So I always try to send positive energy to them. He is now reincarnated and lives on in another body and life. Please take joy in this and that his suffering has ended. Fantastic shot by a fantastic person!

  • Gary Fudge

    Gary Fudge (Deleted) gave props (26 Jun 2008):

    This is a truly superb image. The contrast is pushed and the dodging and burning in the dark room have paid dividends. You haven't said what film speed, but I'm guessing it was less than 400. The image is smooth with the little grain coming through adding to the atmospherics of the composition.

  • Kevin Kabuki

    Kevin Kabuki gave props (26 Jun 2008):

    strangest lighting. Quite the personal story that says simply... as it is.

  • Vidyavati Chandan

    Vidyavati Chandan (Deleted) gave props (27 Jun 2008):


  • rory cobbe

    rory cobbe gave props (27 Jun 2008):

    I'm sorry you lost hyour friend Laura, I"m sure e would be happy to know that you cared so much for him

  • Laura Hartley

    Laura Hartley gave props (27 Jun 2008):

    G - Tri-X film used, which is 400 ASA - just developed the heck out of it - sloooow shutter speed, and the grain got baked out with the deep exposure, but thank you so much for the comment and observations. You know I look forward to your comments very much.

  • William Moore

    William Moore gave props (30 Jun 2008):

    very powerful and masterful photography.....

  • Leanna Lomanski

    Leanna Lomanski gave props (4 Jul 2008):

    How lucky you are to have the skills and opportunity to immortalize one you love so much in such an incredible way! Think of that and be comforted.............I can only imagine how immensely proud he must have been of you.

  • Arie Intveld

    Arie Intveld said (6 Jul 2008):

    This is such an incredibly powerful image, Laura! With it, you have immortalized your dear friend. Your use of light is so tremendously symbolic .. the waning glow of life from David's face and body only to be met with the bright hopeful luminance of faith and a better place to be. Masterful!

  • Laurie Search

    Laurie Search gave props (8 Jul 2008):

    What a truly beautiful memorial to this incredibly special man. Both your words and your photo are deeply moving. The lighting is gorgeous.

  • Farras Abdelnour

    Farras Abdelnour gave props (15 Jul 2008):

    Very touching, and the photo composition says it all

  • Rebecca Kinzie Bastian

    Rebecca Kinzie Bastian gave props (3 Aug 2008):

    so beautiful and moving. It just glows with love.

  • Wallace Jones

    Wallace Jones gave props (29 Sep 2008):


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