Fotoeins Fotografie

faces of home & place-story

Posts from the ‘Personal’ category

The place where I died again

The mind’s eye slowly emerges, hanging over my shoulder for hours after the official declaration at 850pm.

With the nurses’ gentle request, I comply without a word, and I sign the paperwork.

I walk back into the hospital room where she lies. The only sounds are from her neighbour, another patient in another bed, their laboured breathing as sign of life.

I gaze out the window to the nighttime lights of the city. From a great height, I cannot see individuals, but I see them in motion on the streets, and alive in the lights of their houses.

At her bedside, I hold her hand, cool to the touch. I place my other hand on her forehead: there’s a little warmth as I smooth her skin with my thumb. Her eyes are closed, but there’s no breath or acknowledgement. When I close my eyes, the dream doesn’t go away, and ashes begin to fall. I lean down next to her ear, and whisper quiet words at the close.

I palm her cheek one final time, as I’ve done over the last days and weeks.

At the doorway, I turn around and look at her still body one last time. I will not see my mother again until the funeral.

I thank the nurses, and make my way out of the Palliative Care Unit. To the elevators. To the lobby. Out into the cold night. Inside the car, my hands are locked frozen onto the wheel, and I begin to shake with tremors. I let the jolt and shock pass through, and with the recall of past experience, I glide over giant waves of grief.

For the first time, I enter the family house without either parent. It’s surreal and unsettling.

From 1976, this house has been a busy noisy compact home for us; I remember us as kids racing to the top of the stairs to claim our very own bedroom.

A family of us: once at 4, now at 2.

Alone now, the walls echo with sounds from the floors, wood frame, and the pipes. I ascend the stairs in the dark, navigating the upper curve from memory. I shuffle to the parents’ bedroom. With a flick of the switch, the unmade bed is in the same final state, when the paramedics moved her into the waiting ambulance earlier that day.

In less than 12 hours from house to hospital, she slipped away, peacefully and quietly into the aether.

With my parents’ passing, I fulfilled my promise to them. There’d been new beginnings, layered with new understanding and sprinkles of forgiveness along the way. I was granted an extra-time bonus in years: a son to his parents, and a parent for his Mom and Dad.

And it is here, I died twice, in the city of Vancouver.

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Singular moments: family snapshots over 44 years

In February, a short interval mid-month included Chinese New Year’s Day (12th), Valentine’s Day (14th), and Canada Family Day (15th). Surrounding this auspicious interval on both sides were: my mother succumbing to cancer (3rd), and her funeral and burial (17th). She missed her 90th birthday by a mere 6 weeks.

In the weeks following that massive tremor, a heavy cloak of sadness clings on, interrupted occasionally by aftershocks in snippets of truth containing memory and regret. I get to relive the entire process of a parent’s death all over again; with Dad in 2014 and Mom in 2021, the double is anguish with complete finality.

For a long time, I’ve often questioned how much value there was in a family unit, given our inability to verbalize or communicate forms of positive emotional feedback. This post is a short examination of that question in a selection of images. I have to give Mom and Dad credit: they loved pictures of the family, in clear physical evidence by the scatter of photobooks and piles throughout the house. Few will ask whether a photograph at any given time can effectively capture the idea or mood of the moment. The true irony is the future value of that photograph as a means of time travel, back and forth, over and through giant waves of grief.

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The Foto(eins) Journey

Above/featured: Morning light at Kitsilano Beach in Vancouver – 22 Dec 2020 (X70).

Frankly, I don’t know why I waited so long.

For the longest time, I thought photography wasn’t for me. But the curiosity of making images would soon win me over.

My late-entry to photography means I have some regrets not having any images when I lived in Toronto and in Germany. After I moved to Minneapolis, I asked friends and colleagues for some advice, and by 2015, I purchased a compact Canon point-and-shoot camera. I pushed the limits of that camera, and I realized very quickly the kinds of images I wanted to make were beyond what the camera could manufacture. I needed greater flexibility and capability to adjust aperture- and exposure-values, and within three years, I moved “up” to a Canon camera with a crop sensor (450D).

I learned quickly I wanted a broader range of focal lengths, which led me to acquiring a couple of extra lenses. I pushed the 450D very hard, including my year-long around-the-world (RTW) journey in 2012. The shutter died the next summer in Prague, and with my investment of glass within the Canon camera-system, I moved “up” to a Canon camera with a full-frame sensor (6D1) in early 2014. With a larger sensor providing greater sensitivity to low-light, I feel the camera has furnished great images under a variety of conditions. But the 6D1 camera and complement of lenses can be bulky and heavy to carry around for an entire day, and I was feeling “burned out” by the camera-and-lens combination’s larger footprint and weight.

In early 2018, I pondered the idea of a more portable camera, and I decided on a lightly-used Fujifilm X70 mirrorless camera. I brought the 6D1 and the X70 on trips to Europe and the U.S. Southwest to experiment with both cameras, and to understand which device was ideally suited for different environments in different places. The 6D1 still has its place for what I want to photograph, but I discovered a different level of fun and versatility with the X70 with its light weight and small compact size. The X70 isn’t perfect, but it’s a lot easier to carry the X70 into the streets than with the 6D1.

I don’t know what happens next, but there are lots of possibilities for further projects in locations near and far.

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Dan Perjovschi, ZKM, Zentrum fuer Kunst und Medientechnologie, Center for Art and Media, Global Control and Censorship, Karlsruhe, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany, fotoeins.com

Your emotional response to …

Above/featured: Drawings by Dan Perjovschi, 1995-2015. Globale Exhibition at ZKM Karlsruhe – 18 Nov 2015 (6D1).

I’ve had strong reactions to many pieces of art I’ve had the privilege and pleasure of seeing in a selection of museums and art galleries around the world. Here are some works of art which may provoke emotional reaction(s) from the viewer: sad, happy, angry; or perhaps, neutral. At each image, stop to a calm, pay attention to the details, and consider the caption provided.


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Sḵw’áyus, Kitsilano, Salish Sea, Vancouver, BC, Canada, fotoeins.com

20 for 20: Foto(ein)s for 2020

Above/featured: Vancouver, 22 December.

I look back at the 2020 year with the following images to address how different locations in both Seattle and Vancouver question the nature and ideas of displacement and belonging, home and travel.


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