Sadly, Mr. Momano passed away this past Sunday.
I met him only once when I was out using my new-to-me (though made in the mid-1900s) Graflex RB Super D, a hand-holdable 4×5 SLR camera with a 190mm f5.6 Kodak Ektar lens. (This is the same camera that Dorothea Lange used to make her famous photograph “Migrant Mother”.)
Mr. Momano was fishing at McCall Lake on April 28, 2018 near my home when I brought the contraption out of my car and walked up to him. I peered down into the chimney finder to make sure I had the camera set up so as not to take up too much of his time.
I had set the exposure, too, by turning a key putting tension on the cloth focal plane shutter, probably set for 1/1000 at f5.6. All that was left was to ask to make his portrait.
He said okay. I made one with him fishing.
And since there are two sheets of film in a 4×5 film holder, I asked him to turn to the camera for one.
I had his name and his hometown, Fort Lupton Colorado, which is a town east of Boulder, but no address.
I printed up a photo (or two) and found a picture frame and drove it to the only address I could find for him listed in Fort Lupton, but when I got to the door of the residence–it was inside an apartment complex–there was no answer. I didn’t know if it was the right address or if I was leaving it by the door of a place where he used to live. If that were the case, maybe they knew him and would see that he got it.
And that’s the last thing I knew about it. Never got word. It’s been years.
I had tucked my business card on to the back of the frame so that he’d have my contact info. That was the card his daughter used yesterday when she contacted me to say the family found the photograph and wondered if there were any others.
She only saw the photo of him fishing.
I wrote her and said there was a second photograph that I had made, with him looking at the camera. And I told her to open the frame–I often tuck a second photograph behind the first for the family to find someday. I call it my surprise photography.
In any case, they’re photographs from large film negatives and I told her I can certainly make her more photographs if she wants more.
It was an honor to have made this special family photograph, one that takes on more meaning now the family is at a loss.
Family photography is the most important work we do, and it means more to people than we often know. Make photographs and print them so that they will last. You can even use my trick and add a surprise.
It’s a treat for the next generation. Here’s the second photograph.
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