Papa: A Great Man

Posted on Nov 30, 2013

Papa SwimmingI find beauty in all the stories I come across in my daily life.  I’m constantly filling up a list and trying to figure out how to show off the interesting and amazing people I come into contact with.  I want my work to be a celebration of life and for the viewer to have an emotional reaction to what they see.  I may find something fascinating but if what I see doesn’t translate through the lens, I haven’t really done my job.

Over a year ago I spent a week with each of my grandpas as a part of a personal project and while I have gone over most of the photos, I haven’t really dug through all of the footage yet.  I’ve been sitting on it and waiting until it felt right.  This past week my Pops (my dad’s dad aka: Papa) passed away and I found myself scrolling through the photographs I hadn’t touched in over a year.  It felt right and each photo had a brief memory associated with it.  I quickly realized that I had a few film negatives I had scanned but never looked at and when I opened them my emotions took over.

One of the reasons I love film so much is that it really is just a glimpse in time.  Once I open the shutter on my 1936 Nettar there is no going back.  Each photograph is costly and I value each image highly.  These photos of Pops were no different.  There is something special about the few photographs I shot on film while spending a week with him.  I remember waiting patiently while he was napping, laying down by the pool while he was swimming, and watching in the corner while my dad cut his hair so that I could capture a simple image and a moment in time of a great man.  Seeing these innocent moments was the first time I have been emotionally moved to tears by one of my own photographs.

Thanksgiving was this week and as the family gathered it was quite obvious that Pop’s presence was missed at the dinner table.  He was a hoot and plenty of memories were shared over the course of the day.  While a few words on my blog can’t do him and his life justice, I feel it’s only right to share my favorite image from the week I spent with him.  Pops loved the water.  He had stories for days about swimming in Pittsburg, diving in college, and he looked forward to every Tuesday and Thursday when he was able to go and swim in the pool.  It was obvious that he felt at home in that pool and I think there was a part of him that felt like a kid every time his toes touched the water.  He was a great man and he laid a strong foundation for me but I will never forget that at the end of the day, Pops was quite the character and definitely a kid at heart.

There is plenty to reflect on but this image will always remind me of the great man who was my Pops.


  1. Vicki Shaw
    December 1, 2013

    Beautiful! We will miss him for sure.

  2. Sue and Dick Dyrness
    December 2, 2013

    What a beautiful tribute in honor of your Grandfather! You are so blessed to be in his family. We know you will miss him greatly but you have treasured memories. Our heartfelt sympathy to you and your family. Heaven is richer with his arrival! With love. Sue and Dick

  3. Jasmine Damlo
    December 2, 2013

    What an wonderful bit of information you have. I enjoyed his presents as well. Thank you for that beautiful piece.

  4. Gene Schandorff
    December 3, 2013

    Jeff, Your grand Father was a wonderful example to this “young pastor” back in the day in Northern California. Thanks for sharing these thoughts.

  5. Peggy Hoback Burgess
    December 3, 2013

    Thank you, Jeff! I would love to see your photos of my hero, my “Uncle Bud”. He did truly love the water. He took my family to Miller Beach several summers to swim in Lake Michigan. He taught me sooooo much. He was a clown, he was clever, he was impish, but most of all, he was a man of God. I love him dearly and know I will meet him again on the other side. The picture of him immersed in the water says so much. He was immersed in the Spirit. Hope I get to meet you soon!

  6. Dave Fenton
    December 4, 2013

    Jeff, Thanks so much for sharing your G.Dad with all of us. I confirm his sense of humor and warm spirit. God loves him and we love him. Bless you for your life, Jim Shaw. Bless you, Jeff for being a part of his.


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