In Celebration Of Andy
I made a lot of photographs at the Celebration of Life ceremonies for retired Westerville Fire Battalion Chief Andy Hicks who died last week.
At the entrance to services at Heritage Christian Church was a tableau of Hicks’ life as a firefighter. Firefighting gear, retirement gifts, and portraits of his family. The composition in this photo is anchored by the large portrait of his family as a focal point.
The firefighting gear is displayed with reverence, the helmet and jacket standing as silent testaments to his career. The inclusion of personal items, such as the fire extinguisher and boots, brings a very human element to the gear, reminding viewers of the person behind the uniform.
I had paused at the edge thinking I might get a fair photo of the tableau with the line for the guest book extending past it toward the door. There were several opportunities as the line changed configuration depending on how many people had arrived and how they gathered in groups.
Most of the photos lacked interest beyond the content and arrangement of the collection. The photos were two-dimensional without a storytelling center of interest or primary subject beyond the family portrait.
Just as I was preparing to leave the front of the church to go inside the sanctuary this young boy appeared from in front of his mother stepping to the side so he could see Hicks’ history, his tools, the things that helped explain who he was. The boy looking on with innocence added another layer of emotional depth to the tableau, suggesting the passing on of legacy and memory to younger generations.
It has more significance knowing that three of Andy’s family are firefighters.
Later, during the service, I returned to the front to discover that a shaft of sunlight through a window at the front of the church fell across the portrait of Andy and his family brightening it more than all the tools and articles.
More photos from the celebration will be in Tuesday’s edition of The Continuance at The Westerville News.
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