This story is one of the most difficult columns I’ve ever had to write. With everything going on in the world, I found it very difficult to muster a positive story for this newspaper that thrives on positivity. Viruses, riots, and my mother’s triple bypass surgery were all weighing very heavily on me. And, just when I think I can’t take another hit, I get news that a colleague and friend in my circle of photographers had suddenly passed away.
Andy Benton was a live music photographer who would often post images of rural landscapes and animals, in addition to musicians. I’d see Andy’s work pop onto my Instagram feed, and I felt a little warmer. He had a style that was dark, but not depressing—black and white; yet, vibrant with “color.”
Andy was less than two months older than myself. He was only 51 years old. Frightening.
Another fellow photographer, and Andy’s best friend, Amanda Oldham gave me the news. Her tears were very real as I read her message, and mine were as well as they filled my phone screen. I had known of Amanda before Andy’s death, but since his passing we have had a dialog that has been supportive and uplifting. She has shared stories about Andy, and we have connected in a way that probably would not have happened without Andy’s passing. I can’t think of a more precious positive than friendship to come from something as dark as death.
Amanda told me she had patches made for the photographers that Andy knew from around the world. These patches would help us honor and remember our friend, while identifying each other as we work in the field. The patch has a rocket pictured on it, as Def Leppard was one of Andy’s favorite bands, and his favorite song of theirs was “Rocket.”