May 13, 2015

Do it right the first time

Quality brothers: Cal & Rick
Meet my dad Cal and his plaid-clad elder brother by ten years, Rick. These two have been in the carpentry business alongside their own dad since they could swing a hammer. My dad has beautiful stories of going to work with his dad Frank KK at eight years old. I hope my children are able to experience that kind of work alongside him someday. These men are Quality Builders. The phrase, Do it right the first time was often heard in my childhood home and to this day I cannot help but approach a project full blast. My folks don't do anything half way. I am grateful to them for it.

It has taken me some time to work through these photos and my emotions attached to them. At the time (shot nearly one month ago in early April), this felt like my first photo essay of the warm season. My initial intentions as I loaded my cameras for the day changed as the auction progressed and emotions began attaching themselves to the images I was composing. I don't normally shoot in that sense, so emotionally invested in the angles and spirit within the scope and so urgently that I forget to meter the light (a reason why the inaccurate exposure ticks me off ever so). Such is life. It goes.... How appropriate that my first auction of the year was my own Dad's. Cal and Rick decided it was time to sell the business, the physical shop and tools within in order to move in separate directions as Rick eases into retirement and my dad blasts into the prime of his independent career. 

As a photographer and proud daughter, I shot with a lump lodged tightly in my throat as I watched through my scope the variety of emotions move across the faces of my dad and his brother, my aunts, uncles, mother, siblings and many cousins as they watched Frank's original tools and dovetailed crates disappear into the trucks of others with zero emotional attachment to these iconic items which marked our lives so. These emotions surprised me. It is far easier to photograph from an arms length. Shooting was a cathartic process in a sense, as I was able to come to grips with the reality of change as I observed those around me work through the same quiet emotions.

All those bittersweet emotions aside, the auction was a great success and not a sad day whatsoever. It was a day marking the beginning of great change for the Kroekers! A launch, if you will. THAT I was happy to capture on film. Auctions are exciting! It was open season for capturing portraits of all of the characters who came out to support, place bids and bid adieu to Frank Kroeker, the man who passed Quality Builders onto his able sons when his time came to rest at last. I felt his spirit near all day, I felt him smirking a smirk that said it all. You did good, sons. I asked my dad at the breakfast table on Mother's Day, "how did Grandpa Kroeker wind down?" and my dad replied, "he did the books". There you have it. I shot many slides on my Kiev as the day progressed but it feels rather shameful to share slides that have been digitalized. That said, the pictoral narrative is right at home on the projector screen, blasting light through 6x6 color positives as intended. Slide show to come.

* I was hesitant to share these due to the strong (overkill) contrast and strange results of processing film in a broken tall can without a thermometer. But screw it, these are my people and here is a look in regardless of perfection. My favorite shot between the two contrast rolls is either this top leader shot of my dad partially chopped off at the place where the 120 film is taped to the paper backing  OR the shot of Jord wolfing a hotdog, curls flying. 

Photo Essay no. 1: Quality Builders auction, April 2015

Rick's corner.
This man was a gentleman and part of the auction team who came out to get the job done.
Hesitation. I asked and this is what he gave.
My Uncle Jim smirks beautifully.
Iain observes. I receive so much joy in watching this man watch the world.
Jord wolfs a 'dog.
Grill man.
Sometimes I notice characters like these and I thank my lucky stars for my eyeballs. I followed this man around all morning and yet couldn't find the nerve to ask for his portrait. Enamored I was, which doesn't happen too often. Too bad I fudged the exposure on this roll, that face (on the left) begs to be worked with. Unveil the beauty Margot!
Cousin Derek and my Aunty Lavina (wife to Rick).
Shop still life. 
Settling the bill after a successful auction.
Community. I love that happy face of Uncle Jim in the crowd, hamming it up with someone or other.
The auction begins on the shop yard.
My dad and brother, talking shop with Tim.
While his face may reveal little, this man is a deep soul. Uncle Rick takes in the auction.
Gareth and Erin take in the sights.
One of my favorite Aunt and Uncles: Karen & Rick F.
Rick & Rick share a laugh.
Checking out the merchandise.
Funny how off my exposure was outside in high sun, yet inside? Just right for me. I love those bones of the shop.
Portrait of myself on the counter where my dad and uncle would work with the books or blueprints. Shot by someone who was freaked out by my request. Soft looks, that's alright by me. 
My dad enjoying the people who came out to support him.
My dad and Uncle Rick in front of the shelving I have known my entire life, in the shop their dad built.

And that's a wrap. The Quality Builders company may have sold part and parcel, but the roots of integrity hold fast. These two brothers have taught me so much about work ethic, honesty, quality and how to maintain healthy relationships between builder and client. To this day, my dad goes to work whistling with a spring in his step. I want to find a way to enjoy what I do thoroughly throughout my life. Life is too short not to enjoy one's bread and butter. Thank you to both my parents for the many lessons you have modeled over the years. As a teacher and artist, I hope to pass a similar legend of integrity on to the young generation that I encounter whether it be in the classroom, kitchen or studio. Quality or bust.

Last night Lo and I sat around Iain's table bathed in candlelight. We caught up in a hurry as only sister wives do with one evening and two bottles of rouge on our hands. Willie Nelson, Abner Jay, Fleetwood Mac, Emmylou Harris (among others) crooned in the background. How I have missed that woman's force in my life. Laura the fish. We worked through the NYT 36 Questions across from each other at the table with gales of laughter and quick notes. Two writers, writing. Try your hand at them with your own sister wife, partner, blood sibling, perfect stranger. Makes for a great date at Vera Pizza ;)

Kiev 60 / Tmax 400 / processed at home (clearly) / professionally scanned by Ashley of Photo Central.

1 comment:

  1. You, my friend, are a Quality Builder of words and images, ideas and relationships. Highest quality. I enjoyed this very much.