I grew up in a small blue-collar town in the middle of Michigan. My dad was a union worker with GM. When I decided I was going to become a photographer my decision was not well received. Dad, of course, worried I’d starve. He wanted me to follow him into the factory. He didn’t understand “photographer” was an actual job. Lucky for me I had a mentor who stepped in and calmed his worst fears. But that didn’t mean I gained his support. Until one very serendipitous thing happened.
In the mid-70 my area of Michigan was blasted with a freak ice storm. Inches of ice coated everything within minutes. Power lines and tree limbs snapped. Birds, like this robin, froze to their perch. Even with ice creepers, I could barely walk to cover the storm. The bird exemplified the ferocity of the storm. We transmitted the picture across the UPI wire.
Meanwhile, across the pond, one of my dad’s buddies was on vacation in England. He bought a London Sunday Times and surprise, there on the International page was a picture of a frozen bird from Michigan, with my byline. He brought the clipping back and gave it to my dad. From that day forward, my father proudly carried the folded newspaper clip in his shopworn wallet. He would bring it out for anybody who would stop to show them what his son did for a living.
I didn’t know any of this happened until decades later, after my father retired and my mother showed me the yellowed, brittle clipping still buried in his wallet. My father’s acceptance and pride lived in silence. It was a different time.