Sticky Mike

The pictures below are among the first I took of my brother Mike in my adult life. I started taking his picture on his 40th birthday at the Developmental Center. I wanted, somehow, to document his life, but I wasn’t exactly sure how to do it. I wanted to include relationships between Mike and the rest of us – I was sure that this was part of the story. I like the picture below because it show’s Dad’s hand on Mike’s shoulder. I also remember that Mike was eating chocolate ice cream and that he was really, really sticky.

Dad's hand on Mike's shoulder at his 40th birthday

The picture below reveals more of the stickiness of the situation, and Mike’s typical positioning of his hand by his ear. It didn’t matter to him if his hand was sticky or not.

Mike with sticky hands after eating ice cream

One of the odd things about this particular photograph is that it not only evokes the memory of that time, I see the photograph in the first person, as if I am there. This doesn’t happen with all my photographs. Most of the time I experience my photographs as other viewers do: in the third person.

Perhaps I got used to the camera as mediator between my brother and me. It was more comforting being behind the camera, preserving the moments than being part of the moment and letting them slip away uncaptured.

I think that balance, between observation and participation, was a consideration in my childhood and remains a consideration for me today.

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