David and I are well aware, as we work our way through our project of photographing the survivors of D-Day of the limited time we have to pursue this project.
Ill health has already forced us several times to postpone shoots.
Even the wonderful lady coordinating the project via the Normandy Veterans Association has had a major health scare and quadruple bypass surgery that put a temporary hold on our project while she recovered
Today I received the news that Ivor, one of the D-Day veterans David Oakley and I photographed late last year has passed away.
This brings mixed emotions.
When you consider what Ivor went through to survive not only D-Day but the war itself and the huge cost of lives from his brothers in arms you’d have to say he was indeed lucky to have lived such a full life.
But on the other hand we have lost one more link to human history.
One more personal history of the war that has never been told, and besides our recording of parts of his journey one that will now never be told.
I often say, when talking about travel photography, that you can never photograph the place you are going to, just your experience of that place.
The more I talk to these amazing men, the more I realise that every one had their own war. And each experience was unlike anyone elses.
That is why their stories are so important and why, once gone, we have lost something important.
Ivor was such an interesting character. At times it was hard to follow his story, we jumped around a lot from distant past, recent past and the present.
Both David and I felt disgusted when he told us of his embarrassment of falling to an internet scam and losing a lot of his money.
We felt his pain when he told us his son had seized power of attorney over him and now controls all his finances.
Whilst we understood the sons motives, the anguish he felt having to ‘beg’ for his money every time he wanted to shop was something that really hit us hard. You could tell this burned in him. He told us he was ready to go to court to win his power back.
We wished him well.
Our project is to capture two images of each veteran, one formal image on black so that the whole series has one consistent image and the other image is one of them in their surroundings.
Some of our subjects are surrounded by the war with images, maps and memorabilia. In others there is no trace at all.
Ivor’s house was surrounded by keepsakes.
Not his, but his deceased wife’s.
In some ways it was a museum to their life together. It was touching, there was fondness in his voice when he mentioned different pieces and how they had acquired them.
There was no choice but to shoot his informal portrait surrounded by this collection of their life together.
So today we say goodbye to Ivor.
I hope our images did some justice to who he was as a person.
Thank you for your generous time allowing us to come and talk to you and photograph you.
And more importantly, thank you for your service.
Glynn & David