Remembering Robert G Crum
My dear friend passed away on January 14, 2021. I was 3,000 miles away from paying my respects in person. When you get old like us, time takes us sooner than we'd like. I last texted him on the 12th and he had texted me a few days earlier. He loved photography. He wrote about it in his column for the newspaper.
It was in the year 2009 when Roger, Carole and I packed into my car and drove to Ojai. Roger and I had to do an assignment for a photography class at Santa Monica College. The course required that we submit a selfie with each shoot.
At the end of the day, things were peaceful on the lookout point. Carole relaxed in the back seat with her magazines, maybe waiting out the time to go home after a full day. Steve tagged along, drinking beers in his pickup truck.
Everyone stirred to life when Roger put on a long white night gown, an auburn wig and bright red wax lips. Roger was crawling all over the look out point's placard in various poses. Roger could have been, should have been, he is an art director. One only needs to go out on any shoot with him when he insists that you put your gear to one side and stand here, there and everywhere. Roger gets an idea ... no, rather a vision. It's always a major production.
A local reporter for the Fillmore Gazette saw the antics and pulled his truck in to observe the craziness. That was Bob. This is the first photograph I took of Bob on that day.
Bob and I would do many photo adventures together. He was an outdoorsman and wanted to go everywhere by kayak, by car, by whatever means and always with his camera. In his later days, Bob was thinking about getting rid of the heavier camera gear and getting something lighter, but always thinking about his next shoot.
I had sort of put my camera off to one side. After years of taking photos, after hundreds of thousands of photos, I was a little frustrated that it seemed so difficult to conjure up business or to sell fine art prints. Hell, it was hard to get a model other than myself, but Bob encouraged me to keep at it. Perhaps we bickered about some things in photography. He liked to post process and I'd complain that he'd post process to a fault. He hated black and white and believed in color, overly saturated color. If we bickered enough to squabble, we wouldn't speak to each other for maybe no more than a day and then we'd change the subject. I have always been the negative one. Bob was light, fresh, friendly and cheerful. I must have made him crazy, but he "loved" me anyway and he was encouraged when I would momentarily let go of my resistance.
Good friends are hard to come by and good friends are hard to say goodbye to. I printed out this picture, framed it and hung it in my kitchen. I wish him a good day every morning and remember that it is time again to make more photography. And, as I beat myself up about what sort of photography I should set out to do -- which is always that sticking point that makes one turn around and do something else instead, waiting for a form of inspiration or for the excuses to wear out -- I now realize that there's always time while we have it. Life doesn't give us time beyond the expiration date. You go when your ticket says it's boarding time.
Where ever you are Bobby, I know you're taking it all in. I will see you later.
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