The late Brian Hirschfield, AFIAP, ARPS, APAGB better known as 'H'
Eulogy for Brian
Brian made a book which he titled "My Passion for Photography". I first encountered that intense passion of his when he was at a camera club. That evening was over fifteen years ago. I remember a long table covered in big black and white prints, all arranged for general review and discussion. The usual suspects, run-of-the-mill traditional darkroom work lay around, dozens of top quality prints. But one -- and only one -- of those pictures attracted my BBC television-trained eye, because it was head and shoulders above the rest, in both its technical perfection and its creative artistry.
I quickly sought the owner. I was pointed towards Brian. No small talk: I immediately asked him a nerdy question about his printing process. He unhesitatingly gave me an equally nerdy, precisely explained answer. That was his trademark -- his consummate attention to detail -- and it was to be the start of a long relationship between us which would be built on the solid foundation of our mutual interest in all things photographic. Brian was prolific: his excellent and often ground-breaking output has been curated in a great many world-wide photographic archives, right up until very recently.
Friendships which contain only one dimension are shallow. Not so this one. Brian and I travelled together on many lengthy outings over the years. We were often in demand, accepting invitations to teach new tricks about digital image making in The Lightroom to many an old darkroom dog.
On our car journeys we talked -- as men will often talk -- about wider issues. We freely discussed our roles in life -- as employees, as sons, as husbands, as fathers. We exchanged anecdotes about the many labels we'd earned as men who'd experienced varied and interesting phases in life.
Then there was Brian's dry and mischievous wit. When he was on top form, he was captivatingly entertaining as a guest speaker. One of his favourite tricks was to tint a photograph by immersing it in a container of thick, brown, gloopy liquid. The resulting print came out the colour of rich, dark chocolate. What came next was guaranteed to elicit an audible gasp from those watching, as Brian proceeded deliberately, slowly, theatrically and tantalisingly to lift the bottle of foul-looking dye towards his mouth. Then he would noisily gulp down several mouthfuls, smacking his lips afterwards with over-dramatic relish. When the audience finally recovered from the shock, he announced, through a wide and impish grin, that he had in fact only been swallowing perfectly harmless prune juice.
A funeral is an emotional event, because it is the one time and place where each of us here today can focus privately on what it means to us to have had Brian in our lives. I was privileged that he chose to share his passion for photography with me with such generosity of spirit.