Early Works

JOSEPH DEISS
Richard, 1958


 

I was not allowed to use my father's camera until I was about 14 years old. This image was made in 1958 when I was 16. It was sometime after an accident where I nearly killed my brother with a rifle.

We were on a day trip and I was following him on a deer trail. We were approaching a tree with low hanging branches and I had the rifle pointing uphill, safety on, one hand on the stock, the other on the barrel. As my brother passed the tree, he pulled a branch with him and then released it, snapping it back at me. The sad consequence was that the barrel was pulled to his position, the safety released, and the trigger pulled. The bullet left a part in his hair. I was subsequently very ill and wandered aimlessly for about 18 hours until I was found and sent home. It was the last time I ever used a firearm.

Photographing him with a pistol in a macho pose was deliberate. I have always had a difficult relationship with my brother. This episode was buried in the past until I came across this image, and then all the memories came rushing back. I often wonder how much my memories have changed over the years as a result of the bad feelings between my brother and I.

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