Ode to Robert Seydel

Tribute January 28, 2011 2:56 pm

I found out yesterday that one of my photography professors, Robert Seydel, had died unexpectedly. It was shocking. I had a rocky photo career at Hampshire. I always knew that I was interested in photography, but I wasn’t too good at making pictures. My lack of confidence, and interest in other subjects, stopped me from taking any classes until my second to last year. I learned how to develop and print by copying people in the darkroom. As the end of college was nearing, I got the nerve to meet with a wonderful professor, photographer and someone I am lucky to now call my friend, Sandra Matthews. She looked at my shoddy prints and told me that she would help, she would be my advisor. The last two years in college were my best. Sandra was supportive, tough when needed and really pushed me. Life changing, I think, as I sit at my desk working as a photo editor. But this post isn’t about Sandra, who I could go on and on about. It is about Robert Seydel. Mr. Seydel taught my last year intensive class, while I was working on my final thesis project, an installation based on Alice in Wonderland where I cast my family and lost high-school friends as characters. It sounds cheesy, and it could have been really bad, but Robert quietly nudged me along the way. A wonderful artist, he knew how to look and when to ask for more effort. He was careful with words, sensitive to his students feelings, and had high expectations. My project changed because of him. He was a star at the college. Is a star, then and now. My experience isn’t unique. Many of my college-mates had Robert as their teacher and advisor for years, I only had him as a teacher for one year, but a very special one. His loss is great. And it reminded me, as I woke up this morning, how you just never know. Never know what your day will be, what your year will look like, what your morning will bring. As my mom had written across our kitchen wall throughout my childhood, Life is Short, but it’s Wide. Its very true. I am thinking of the hundreds of people that woke up this morning thinking of him and how he changed their lives. What an inspiration.

Robert Seydel, Untitled (to Joseph C.) oneartworld.com

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