Hamlet in Suburbia: Why I Love Photography

Bob Varettoni
3 min readJul 26, 2022

Here’s another shameless self-promotional photo of me (far left, which is as political a statement I’ll make in this post), holding a copy of the new “New Jersey Fan Club” anthology with some co-contributors.

We had gathered this past Saturday at The Corner (top right), a great little shop/studio in picturesque Flemington, NJ, to talk about photos published in the book… and what prompted our love of photography.

For me, it always comes back to Dad. He bought an Olympus 35 while overseas with the Navy, then took family photos in the ensuing decades. My Mom, sister and I used to love to gather in the family room to watch his slideshows. And now it occurs to me that exactly two years ago, I posted here about recovering Dad’s slides from his 1955 trip to Barcelona.

Which I still haven’t visited.

Several veteran news photographers who were artists at their craft also inspired me, and tolerated my questions, when I began my career as a reporter. I’m thinking especially of the late Tom Lynch. I once posted about him here. I still haven’t collected and displayed his photos, as promised.

I’m also thinking of Chris Sheridan at Catholic New York, and Ken Lauben in my days as a corporate publication editor. I searched for Ken just now, and found his obituary. Two years ago. I had no idea.

The older I get, the more I wish I could stop time. Which is why I love photography, and why these words from the recent finale of the TV drama “This Is Us” so resonate with me:

“We’re collecting these little moments. We don’t recognize them when we’re in them because we’re too busy looking forward. But then we spend the rest of our lives looking back…trying to remember them.”

Anyway, since The Corner is owned and operated by the talented photographer Dave Norton, I booked a session with him so I could update my social media profile photos. Here’s me, still left of center and wearing Dad’s old tie, on Saturday, July 23, 2022, pretending the person in this image will never age:

Lord knows, I try to keep up with technology and social media… and I do love taking cellphone photos (preferring the camera I always have with me to the Canon I hang around my neck when going on photo-shooting adventures with friends).

As I explained to those attending Saturday’s event, I even dream about these things.

This month, while in bed in suburban New Jersey, I dreamt I had created AI chatbot modeled after Dad, so that he and I could still have text conversations today, even though he died in 2005.

As our “conversations” grew more vivid, in my dream, I noticed that photos of Dad began appearing on my Google Photos feed. I had never seen these images of him before, and I couldn’t fathom who took them. Dad was rarely in the family slideshow photos because he was always behind the camera.

One last photo stood out among the others. It was my Dad and Mom standing side-by-side, facing me, like the man and woman in Grant Wood’s “American Gothic.”

Scrawled on the bottom of this image, hand-printed in the same small lettering Dad always used when writing captions on the outside corners of his 35mm slides, was this message:

“Avenge My Death!”

Originally published at http://varettoni.blogspot.com.



Bob Varettoni

Posting here about writing, books, tech, family, baseball. More about me at bvarcommunications.com