Guest Post: ‘Remember Me as Being a Help to Others’

By Rick Fisher

My interest in photography began when I was the high school yearbook photographer. I really don’t know why I volunteered because, at the time, I didn’t even own a camera.

My father was a big 8mm movie guy, but he never used a still camera. After I was selected as the yearbook photographer, my father bought me my first 35mm camera.

Between high school and 1998, I was a casual amateur photographer. When digital was introduced, I got excited about the technology and renewed my interest.

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I steadily built my skills while working a “real job” until I retired from Biogen as vice president of human resources in 2007.

I admire a number of photographers, including John Shaw, Paul Wingler, and Annie Leibovitz. John inspired me to become a professional photographer. Paul was my mentor and made me the photographer I am today.

I formed a photography business, Rick Fisher’s Photography, in 2011 and gradually began photographing everything. I did a few weddings and other events, people and pet portraits in my small home studio, and even a cookbook, which is still for sale on Amazon.

When I wasn’t photographing for money, I had an interest in horticulture and nature. I was a master gardener in Durham County, N.C., and volunteered at Duke Gardens as a propagation specialist and a volunteer photographer.

I decided to devote my photographic efforts to raising money for charities by providing photography products and services. Since 2011, I have given 100 percent of my profits – about $225,000 – to charity. I take no compensation for my work [and] also do photography for nonprofits at no charge

Between 2011 and 2017, I traveled the U.S. extensively, taking about 100 trips and amassing several hundred thousand images. I selected a few hundred of those images for my nature and travel photo book.

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I had been diagnosed with dermatomyositis for several years, [but] in September 2017, I began to have shortness of breath and was losing weight. In March 2018, I was admitted to the Duke Medical ICU and told I had ALS [and] four to 10 months to live. In December 2018, [my life expectancy] was extended three months.

During 2016 and 2017, as my mobility restricted me, I began doing much of my photography in my studio and specializing on pets (and dogs, in particular). Although ALS prevented me from photographing anything in 2018, I had amassed about 50,000 dog images. Those images and contributions from a number of worldwide dog photographers make up my dog photo book.

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I would describe myself as grateful, ingenious, and giving.

If I make it to June, I will be married to my wife, Beth, for 40 years. We have two daughters, Brigid and Catherine; two sons-in-law, Wayne and Mike; and two grandchildren, Madeleine and Austin. Most importantly, we have two Labrador retrievers, Emmett (the good dog) and Angus (the bad dog).

For much of my life, I was a single-digit handicap golfer. I decided to give up golf in favor of photography. I also began volunteering more as a photographer than as a propagation specialist at Duke Gardens. This year, Duke Gardens decided to use only my images for their annual 2019 calendar.

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I have two photo books for sale on my website now. The dog photo book sells for $100.00 and I give $50.00 to animal shelters across the country. All profits from the sale of the 240-page nature and travel coffee table book will be donated to The ALS Association.

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I can no longer hold a camera, but I can still use my mouse and computer – although my mobility is down to two index fingers.

I hope people remember me as being a help to others. And, as my email signature says, “If the will to live and the power of prayer from others makes a difference, I will enjoy a little more time on the planet than the doctors give me.”

You can buy Rick’s photo books in hard cover or as an eBook here. Find Rick’s photography Facebook page here.

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