It's been a trying week around here. First I want to apologize to our current clients who are waiting on their photos. Please know that we are working towards getting them to you as quickly as we can. It's just been a tough week.
Many of you probably already have seen this on Facebook, but for any that haven't, Tuesday morning, fellow photographer Daniel Mast, aged only twenty-freaking-eight, passed away. He was involved in a tragic work accident that took his life instantly. He leaves behind a beautiful young wife, Rebecca, 2 boys ages 2 and 4, and a 3rd child on the way that will be here in a few short weeks.
So what can I say about Daniel? He was a photographer. He was a father and husband. He was a man of faith. And he loved to ride his motorcycle, hang out with friends and be there for you when you needed him. He was that kind of guy. I don't recall when I first met Daniel, but I am sure it was at a photographer function here in Lancaster. See if you didn't know, our kind sticks together. Like glue. Sure, we may have our petty squabbles and disagreements. But when it comes down to it, we are just a great big family. We look out for each other, we take care of each other, we laugh and cry with each other, and in times like these, with our hearts heavy and sorrowful, we cry out together. Ask any photographer who has been doing this a few years. They will tell you what I mean.
What I remember the most about Daniel is laughter. Pure, jovial, belly laughing deep down, throw down laughter. The man loved to laugh. He laughed at you, he laughed with you, he made YOU laugh at him and with him. Every way, every combination. And that was just Daniel. He had that way about him. Honestly, I wish Joel and I knew him better than we did. We always hung out at our photographer functions here in Lancaster, exchange emails, ran into each other around town - and Joel had even gone to the movies with him and his best friend Jordan several times (hello Watchmen in iMax?) But one thing we never got to do, was what we do with all of our closest friends, and that is to get to know not just him, but his entire family as well. We know Becca, his wife. She had been in with Daniel several times when we had our studio down on Queen Street. She was pretty and nice and I often thought, "We should hang out with them more." And life comes and goes, and time passes, and things get forgotten. And here we are. With regrets. My regrets are only that we could have known and enjoyed Daniel's life with him more.
While digging around trying to find some photos of Daniel, I found some old emails we had exchanged and while not too deep, they show you just how he was. Humorous and helpful. The 2 big Hs in my book:
May 8, 2009 (This would have been when we were moving INTO our studio on Queen St.)
I don't have a huge amount (2-3 small ones) of boxes but if you need any help at all moving I would be more than happy to "volunteer" some time in exchange for food.
Daniel Mast - Photographer
March 21, 2011 (And then another from him when we decided we were being pulled in too many different directions and closed our studio and moved our office back home.)
Rita (and Joel),
I'm happy to hear of the change for you guys! I know it has been very freeing to be doing the same myself. I hope that it is equally freeing for you as well. If you need ANY assistance at all moving things or anything else please let me know - I'll do my best to make it happen. I'll definitely miss seeing your beautiful space there on Queen :(. Wish you and the fam the best!
Your Movie Going Compadre, Daniel Mast
So where do we go from here? Well for now, we take action. We grieve, we cry, we laugh, and we do what we can. I have felt pretty helpless the last few days, knowing that Becca has lost her other half, and that she will soon have 3 small children to take care of by herself. I'm going to put it bluntly, I would be devastated if this happened to me. I wouldn't know what to do. Like Becca, I am very lucky to have found my true soulmate, someone that completes me and who I understand so completely. So I sat down on Wednesday night, and I started doing the only thing I could do. I wrote. I wrote a semi-lengthy post on our Facebook page, and I promoted the heck out of it. I wanted everyone to read about it and know about Daniel and his family and how we can all help them get through this time. I drew on my knowledge and connections of all the photographers that I know from all across the country. I started Facebook messaging and emailing like a fool. By mid-day Thursday I had a plan forming, and by now. Well, by now, it is its own beast. See I knew that most of us probably wanted to do something. Daniel's closest photographer friends - Kim and John Sanderson, and Jordan Bush - were all busy with the important immediate stuff. No. 1 - Grieving. Hello. and No 2. - Helping Becca get everything ready for Daniel's Memorial Service next week. So SOMEONE had to take the reins. I kind of took it upon myself. Joel and I are close with Kim and John, and I knew they wouldn't mind. So off I went. And here I am.
We are planning two different phases of fundraisers to support Daniel's Memorial fund for Becca and the kids. Phase 1 is the National level, where we will be auctioning off all kinds of things from big-name, nationally recognized photographers. Mentoring sessions, workshop seats, products - we are going to have it all. And let me tell you, the overwhelming support has left us all floored. THIS is what it means to belong to a profession such as ours. Yes, we give up our weekends - A LOT. Yes, we miss some of our kids sporting events and recitals and so forth. But then it comes to this, and you see how everyone steps up to the plate and gives you whatever they are capable of. It is heart warming and would turn the coldest of hearts into a puddle of mush. I have gotten so many lovely responses from photographers I have cried every time I have read one. My list of contributors right now is as long as my arm, and it is growing by the minute. We are hoping to have the online auctions of all of these items starting next week. So stay tuned, cause you aren't going to want to miss this.
Phase 2 will be on a local level, and will be all of Daniel's local photographer friends and colleagues participating in a day long portrait event. Details are still being worked out for this, but we are hoping to have the event sometime later this summer.
So if you have read this far in my diatribe, then I applaud you. Read on just a little further, I swear I am almost done. And listen up, because this is where you, the reader, can help out. Firstly, keep your eyes and ears open and watchful on our blog here and on Facebook for the photographer auctions we will be starting next week. Some of the workshop seats are for June workshops, so don't miss out! Secondly, Kim and John have set up the Daniel Mast Memorial website, which has information about him, his memorial services, and how to donate cash directly to his wife and kids. Please visit that site here:
Daniel Mast Memorial
Now as it is 1AM on Friday, May 24th, and I think I have officially written the longest blog post EVER, I bid you adieu. I have to get up early to help Kim scan family photos from Daniel's parents. Thank you for listening, and please if you can, donate in some way. Many thanks on behalf of all of us hardworkers and Daniel's family. xoxo - Rita
(Photo below of Daniel and his family by Sanderson Images, used with their permission.)