Norm Diamond: What is Left Behind
I think it’s interesting that Norm Diamond comes to photography after a career in radiology, a profession that is all about investigative seeing. It’s a skill he brings to his photographic practice and most recently to his project, What is Left Behind. I had a chance to see this work at Photolucida when he shared his photographs and considerations of objects ready for a new incarnation. Beyond the sadness and poignancy of these at-one-time cherished possessions, there are glimpses into lives lived and ultimately, human history.
Norm’s photographs have been exhibited in several juried group shows including Houston Center for Photography’s Membership Exhibition and A Smith Gallery, TX and online galleries including donttakepictures.com and Black Box Gallery. He was named a finalist in Photolucida’s 2015 Critical Mass competition, and his work has also been featured on Elizabeth Avedon’s and Julie Grahame’s A Curator blog.
Now a full-time fine art photographer after a career in interventional radiology, he participates in numerous workshops and portfolio reviews. Diamond attributes much of his success in photography to his experiences as a radiologist.
What Is Left Behind
Estate sales have become very common because of the aging of our population. As the elderly die or move to assisted living, their children sell their belongings. I went to my first estate sale out of curiosity. After getting past a huge array of dishes and furniture, I found a framed photograph of a formally dressed man, obviously the previous owner of the house, priced at $2.50. It was incredibly poignant. I made a photograph and got hooked.
Now I visit numerous estate sales each week. In addition to photographing at the sales themselves, I often buy items and place them in different backgrounds and lighting. I have found and photographed many unique, personal belongings that leave me wondering why any family member would part with them. Some items bring a smile to my face just because of the irony of their setting. Many others reflect upon our national history and culture. Most poignant of all are the possessions given up because of age and infirmity.
Sometimes when I scurry through houses looking for items that would make a good photograph, I realize that these very personal articles from previous generations connect me to my own past. I think of my parents and the memories they left for my sister and me. My long suppressed themes of loss and regret come floating up to haunt me. I reflect upon my mortality, the choices I have made, and wonder if I have done enough. Like most visitors to estate sales, I find it hard to dwell on these profound themes which are so apparent, yet so uncomfortable. It is easier to search for the next intriguing item to photograph.
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