“Hey Willem, you take photos, don´t you?”
I do, I answered the female customer in the shop
“You take photos of local people, don´t you?”
“Yes, for a while now, but what do you want to ask me?”
“Well Willem, I would like to have a picture of my mother, she is very sick and she will soon die.”
Oops … “Don´t you have photos of her?”, I then asked
“Only a few.”
When she goes on she tells me that mother is a lovely person and at the same time not the easiest. There are only photos of mother at a young age as taking photos was not done very much in the family. I hesitated … this was new to me … and what to expect?But at the same time I felt my heart opening wide.
“I´ll make that photo for you.”
We made an appointment and I went with lead in my shoes …
The front door was open and I heard somebody calling … “come in son”.
And there she was, sitting straight up in bed, pillows in her back. She had given some afford to look pretty … smoking a cigarette.
She really was very sick … skinny to the bones …
“They want a portrait of me”, she said, “so do your thing. Am I alright this way? … wait … my teeth”.
In the photo there is an empty saucer from where she took her teeth and put them in her mouth to look prettier.
I shot the photo, the eighty´s, with my Minolta X700 and 35 mm.
As I left the daughter asked for a few copies, about 10 as there were many children.
A week later mother died.
I went into my darkroom and developed the photo. It is a beauty and it is my series “Levensbeelden”
The family? They were very happy with the photo too.