Friday, May 22, 2020

Visual Delights of a Quiet Man

by Bob Barnard

Bob Barnard and his wife Jane were lifelong friends from our college days. Sometime around 1985, Jane called me. "Bob's birthday is coming up," she said, "And he thinks he would like to have a camera. What should I get him?" I recommended a Canon AE-1.

Tall and lean, with a dry sense of humor, Bob Barnard loved life. He loved his wife, he loved his family, and he loved God. Everyone who knew him knew those things about him. Most, however, did not know that Bob was a dedicated photographer. 

Bob Barnard
June 8, 1935 -- January 23, 2004

He never took a class, nor even, as far as I know, read a photo magazine, so he was little influenced by what others consider "good" photographs. He just took pictures of things that interested him. He was an amateur photographer, pure and simple, in the best sense of the word, because amateur comes from the Latin word amo, meaning to love. Because he loved life, his photographs reflected and revealed that love. They are like the man himself: straightforward, with an apparent simplicity that masks hidden depths. They are photographs that deserve to be seen by a wider audience than the friends with whom he shared them.

Photography, however, was far from the central thing in his life. That place was reserved for his relationship with God.

As a young man, Bob came to understand that he was a sinner, and that God loved him so much that he sent his beloved only son to die to pay the penalty for Bob's sins. Bob also learned that this act of God on his behalf was an absolutely free gift, offered unconditionally to everyone who would receive it. He never got over his awe and gratitude that someone would love him that much. It transformed his life and made him into the man he was.

In 2003, Bob was diagnosed with glioblastoma. He underwent surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy with grace and courage. Even as the tumor ate away his life, Bob spoke frequently of God's goodness. He continues to speak of that goodness even now, through his photographs, through the family he left, and through the testimony of his life. If he could speak to you in person today, he would urge you to receive the same gift of God's grace that changed his life: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life."

On January 23, 2004, Bob exchanged this life that he loved for a far better one. At Jane's request I put some of his photographs in a booklet to be given out at his memorial service. I am showing them in this post to recall to your remembrance the love of simply seeing, and showing others what you saw, that first led you into photography.

(Photographs copyright Estate of Charles Robert Barnard, 2020)

Soli Deo Gloria
For the glory of God alone.

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